06/10/2012 5:41PM

Monmouth: Velazquez provides patient ride aboard Data Link in course-record win

Bill Denver/Equiphoto
Data Link, ridden by John Velazquez, sets a Monmouth Park turf course record for 1 1/8 miles winning the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes.

Heavily favored Data Link, patiently ridden by John Velazquez, passed three horses in the final furlong to capture Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park.

In winning for the sixth time in 12 starts overall, the 4-year-old Data Link ($3.20) set a course record for 1 1/8 miles on turf with rails set at 0 feet. He completed the distance on a firm course in 1:45.93, breaking the record of 1:46.39 set by J’ Ray on Aug. 3, 2008.

Data Link, who captured the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April but then encountered traffic trouble when fifth in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs last month, got an ideal setup for his closing kick by fast fractions of 46.15 seconds for a half-mile and 1:10.22 for the first six furlongs.

“It was perfect.,” said Velazquez, who was riding Data Link for the first time, one day after capturing the Belmont Stakes aboard Union Rags. “There was a lot of speed in the race and he likes to come from behind. It just worked out perfect for us. All the speed held up pretty well and when I pulled him outside at the quarter pole, he responded right away. It’s easy when you ride this kind of horse.”

Get Serious, a 32-1 longshot, led by a head after six furlongs, but Get Stormy, the 7-2 second choice in a field of seven older horses, looked in prime position to win the race when he forged to the front by a half-length after a mile in 1:33.97.

“I had to move about the five-eighths pole, which was sooner than I wanted to go,” said Eddie Castro, the rider of Get Serious. “ He did everything right today. The other horse just caught us.”

Data Link, a son of War Front owned by Stuart Janney III and trained by Shug McGaughey, was moving fastest of all in deep stretch and drew clear late to win by a length. Get Stormy held second, 2 ¼ lengths clear of third-place Get Serious.

“He’s a pretty good horse,” McGaughey said of Data Link, who made his graded stakes debut when third in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf  in March. “We got a little bit of a pace setup and Johnny was patient with him and got him to relax good for him. When he wheeled him out, it was here we come.”

Also on Sunday’s card, the 5-year-old Varsity ($4.20), who won  his season’s debut against second-level optional $25,000 claimers at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard, collected his first stakes win by scoring a half-length victory in the $60,000 John McSorley.

Ridden by Joe Bravo for trainer Christophe Clement, Varsity ran 5 ½ furlongs on turf in 1:00.42 for his fourth win in eight starts.