02/21/2013 2:18PM

Gulfstream Park: Data Link again sets sights on Canadian Turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Data Link has won three of his four starts over the Gulfstream Park turf course, with the only blip on that record his third-place finish here a year ago in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf.

Data Link figures to make amends for that setback on Saturday when he goes off as the solid favorite in the $150,000 Canadian, which drew a field of 10 older horses scheduled to go a mile on the grass.

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Data Link ran through his allowance conditions over the local course in 2011, winning all three of his starts here during a 3-year-old campaign interrupted by an untimely injury suffered following a second-level optional claiming race in late February. He went into the Canadian the following winter off a three-month layoff and came up a bit short with his closing surge, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Doubles Partner after racing at the rear of the pack during the early stages of the race.

Although the race was his first loss in four starts over the Gulfstream turf, the one-mile Canadian set Data Link up perfectly to become a Grade 1 winner in his next start, when he rallied to a neck victory over Turallure, with Doubles Partner finishing another half-length further back in third, in Keeneland’s Makers 46 Mile. Data Link also captured a pair of Grade 2 events in 2012, closing out the season with a convincing 2 1/4-length triumph in Hollywood Park’s Citation Handicap on Nov. 23.

“He had a little setback when he hurt himself down here as a 3-year-old,” said Shug McGaughey, who trains Data Link for owner-breeder Stuart Janney III. “But when he was ridden right last year, he always ran well.”

Javier Castellano will be aboard Data Link, who posted back-to-back bullet works at Payson Park within a week earlier this month. McGaughey will be seeking his second graded stakes win on the grass here this month. He sent out Point of Entry to capture the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9.

Like Data Link, Howe Great relishes the local course, having won all three of his starts over the Gulfstream turf, including both the Kitten’s Joy and Grade 3 Palm Beach at 3.

Howe Great has been idle since finishing seventh after stalking the early pace in the Grade 1 Jamaica on Oct. 6. He has prepared for his return over the turf at Palm Meadows, where he, too, posted a pair of bullet works within a week in early February.

Za Approval and Joes Blazing Aaron, who finished a nose apart in that order under allowance conditions here on Jan. 5, will renew acquaintances in the Canadian. Joes Blazing Aaron is also a Palm Beach winner, having led from start to finish en route to a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 fixture during the winter of 2011.

The late-running Beau Choix exits a rail-skimming one-mile allowance victory on Feb. 1 and could also be a key contender in a race that should feature an honest pace scenario.