11/24/2012 2:03PM

Hollywood Park: Citation caps four-win day for Gomez


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The best way for jockey Garrett Gomez to accent a three-win day at Betfair Hollywood Park on Friday was to make it a four-win day aboard Data Link in the $250,000 Citation Handicap.

Gomez gave Data Link an ideal ride in the Grade 2 Citation, stalking the pace to early stretch and catching pacesetter, and 2-1 favorite, Ultimate Eagle, in the final furlong to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

“Not a bad way to end the day,” Gomez said after the Citation.

The four-win day left Gomez with seven wins since the meeting began Nov. 8. Through Friday, he was sixth in the standings, trailing leader Rafael Bejarano by six wins.

The Citation was the first time that Gomez had ridden Data Link, a 4-year-old colt by War Front who races for Stuart Janney III and trainer Shug McGaughey. Data Link made his California debut in the Citation and won his third stakes of the year. The highlight of the season was a win in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April.

Gomez was left impressed with Data Link’s focus when the colt reached the front in the Citation.

“He always traveled beautiful for me,” he said. “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.”

Data Link ($7) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41. He will be sent to Florida in coming days and rest for a 2013 campaign, according to Jennifer Patterson, McGaughey’s assistant who accompanied the colt to California. Considering his record and development in 2012, it is easy to see Data Link playing a role in the nation’s major turf races at a mile in 2013.

Data Link has won 7 of 15 starts and $673,835.

Gomez rides Kettle Corn in Saturday’s $250,000 Native Diver Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on the main track. The defending champion, Kettle Corn faces a much tougher field this year. The expected field includes the multiple stakes winners Richard’s Kid and Game On Dude, who were fifth and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

Game On Dude, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup here in July, was the 6-5 favorite in the BC Classic.

Separate spills in same race

Friday’s 10-race program was marred by two separate spills in the fourth race. The 2-year-olds True Again and Warren’s Rocky were euthanized as a result of injuries.

True Again suffered a knee injury on the backstretch, unseating jockey Edwin Maldonado. Maldonado was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary CT-scan and was released later in the day.

In the stretch of that race, Warren’s Rocky suffered an injured foreleg, unseating jockey Alonso Quinonez. Quinonez was shaken up, but was not injured. He did not ride the rest of Friday’s program and took off his lone mount on Saturday.