INGLEWOOD, Calif. (November 23, 2012)—Data Link was successful in his Southern California debut, running past pacesetter Ultimate Eagle in the final eighth of a mile to win the $250,000 Citation Handicap (video) on the first day of the Turf Festival Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for owner-breeder Stuart S. Janney III, the 4-year-old War Front colt completed the 1 1/16 miles in the Grade II in 1:41.00 while prevailing by 2 ¼ lengths.
In the process of winning for the seventh time in 15 starts, Data Link gave jockey Garrett Gomez his fourth victory of the afternoon and his second in a row in the Citation. The last rider to have gone back-to-back in the race was Hall of Famer Gary Stevens – Fastness (1995) and Gentlemen (1996).
Gomez, who had three victories through the first nine days of the Autumn meet, captured the 2011 Citation with Jeranimo, who was fourth Friday. Gomez has won the race a record four times.
Out of the Known Fact mare Database, Data Link has earned his wins at five different tracks with Betfair Hollywood Park following Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland and Monmouth Park. He’s earned $673,835.
The 5-2 second choice, Data Link paid $7, $3.80 and $2.60 in providing McGaughey with his second Turf Festival victory – the other was provided by Good Reward in the 2004 Hollywood Derby.
“We’re very pleased with the way he ran today and very pleased with the way Garrett Gomez rode him,’’ said McGaughey by telephone. “They went slow early, but then they picked it up and Gomez was in a great spot. He got shuffled back last time (when fifth in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 6 at Keeneland) and lost all his position and then he was wide on the turn. We think he’s a pretty good little horse. He’ll ship Monday and we’ll see how he’s doing.’’
This was the first time Gomez had collaborated with Data Link and wrapped up a day that also saw win the first with A Toe by Three, the sixth with Woebegon and the seventh aboard Level Headed.
“He bounced away from there and put me in a good spot,’’ said Gomez of the Citation winner. “From there I could decide whether to ease back or stay where I was. He always traveled beautifully for me.
“I hit the front so soon I didn’t know what he was going to be like. I never gave him a chance to ease himself down. When I got into him, he really went.’’
Making his first start since finishing 10th as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 3, Ultimate Eagle broke extremely well under jockey Martin Pedroza, relaxed through 24.17, 47.87 and 1:11.83 fractions while receiving token pressure from longshot Tale of a Champion.
The 2011 Hollywood Derby upsetter had a clear advantage into the stretch, but couldn’t contain the winner, who angled outside for a clear run in the final three sixteenths.
Ultimate Eagle, who was defeated for only the second time in six races on turf, paid $4.20 and $2.80 as the 2-1 choice. Doubles Partner, a Kentucky shipper for trainer Todd Pletcher, was a half-length back in third and returned $2.80 to show.
Completing the order of finish were Jeranimo, Temple’s Door, Tale of a Champion and Interaction. Calimonco was scratched.
Earlier in the day, Kindle was a decisive winner of the $66,950 Cool Air Stakes, (video) quickly establishing command under jockey Edwin Maldonado en route to a 2 ¾ length victory over Broken Dreams and three others.
Second behind Broken Dreams in the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Oct. 20 at Santa Anita, Kindle turned the tables in her Betfair Hollywood Park turf debut, completing the six furlongs in 1:08.38.
Trained by Gary Mandella for HnR Nothhhaft Horse Racing LLC, Kindle returned $5.40, $3.20 and $2.40 as the 17-10 favorite.
Broken Dreams, who was seeking her third win over the local grass, returned $3.20 and $2.20. Schiaparelli, who suffered her first loss in three starts for trainer Mike Puype, paid $2.40 to show. Journaliste and Givine completed the order of finish. Madoffwiththemoney was a Friday morning scratch.
A 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie out of the Carson City mare Carson’s Vanity, Kindle has won four of eight. The victory increased her bankroll to $143,370.
In the subsequent race, Maldonado and Alonso Quinonez escaped serious injury when involved in separate incidents in the starter allowance for 2-year-olds.
True Again, Maldonado’s mount, went wrong early in the 6 ½ furlong race, unseating the rider. Maldonado was taken to nearby Centinela Hospital Medical Center, was evaluated and later released.
Warren’s Rocky, Quinonez’s mount, broke down and fell in midstretch. The rider walked back to the jockey’s room, but was excused from his remaining mount in the seventh race.
True Again, who suffered a knee injury to his left foreleg, and Warren’s Rocky, who incurred a condylar fracture of his right front fetlock, were euthanized.
Racing will resume Saturday. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 10 a.m.
The Turf Festival continues with a pair of Grade III races for 2-year-olds – the $100,000 Generous and the $100,000 Miesque, which is restricted to fillies. Both are at one mile. The Generous is the fifth of 10 races while the Miesque goes as the ninth.
Awesome Gem, who upset Rail Trip to win the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup, will be paraded between the fourth and fifth races.
Trainer Craig Dollase and jockey David Flores, who rode Awesome Gem in half of his starts, will sign autographs near the paddock between 11 a.m.-12 Noon and free Awesome Gem posters will be available. Later in the day, there will be drawings for Awesome Gem memorabilia, including a halter, saddle cloth and West Point silks autographed by Dollase and Flores.
The Pick Six will again feature a guaranteed Pick Six pool of $150,000. If the pool reaches $200,000, there will be $1 food and drink Happy Hour specials at Whittingham’s Pub. The pool has exceeded that figure the first two Saturdays of the Autumn meet.
Additionally, if there is a single perfect ticket in the Pick Six – purchased either on track or through Television Games Network (TVG) – the holder of the ticket will receive a bonus – a 2013 Toyota Prius courtesy of Toyota of Orange.
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