Dataman Storms From Last to First To Win Cliff Hanger

May 25, 2024

Dataman victorious in the Cliff Hanger (Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Tom Luicci/Monmouth Park

OCEANPORT, N.J.— The connections of Dataman discovered a new dimension to the 4-year-old gelding on Saturday, one that can best be described as a happy accident.

After being in a close stalking position for each of his prior four lifetime victories entering the $100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes at Monmouth Park, Dataman unexpectedly found himself lagging in last for more than six furlongs of the mile and a sixteenth grass feature.

As it turned out, it just added to the drama. The son of Tapit, trained by H. Graham Motion and ridden by Jorge Ruiz, stormed from the back of the pack in the seven-horse field and rolled to a one-length victory over longshot There Are No Words, who nearly stole the race is gate-to-wire fashion.

“It looked like he had a little issue out of the gate and had a bit of a stumble because he is not normally as far back as he was,” said Ian Wilson, Motion’s assistant in attendance. “He was last pretty much all the way around until Jorge Ruiz asked him to go entering the final turn. That’s not the way he usually races.

“I expected he would be a little more forward. I thought Jorge did a great job of holding him back there and not rushing him up. We haven’t seen a kick like he showed today because he usually isn’t that far back.”

According to Ruiz, Dataman clipped the starting gate at the break.

“The reason he was so far back is that he didn’t break well because he banged his foot on the gate,” said Ruiz. “I didn’t want to rush him when that happened. I just needed to get him to relax. I’ve ridden this horse many times. I know what kind of talent he has.”

In winning for the fifth time in 12 career starts, Dataman improved to 2-for-2 (both stakes victories) this year.

The winning time over a turf course labelled “firm” was 1:41.42.

There Are No Words, idle since Oct. 13, broken alertly for jockey Jomar Torres and gave all indications of being serious about stealing the race through fractions of :24.81, :49. 22 and 1:12.80 for six furlongs.

Entering the final turn, but still last in the seven-horse field, Dataman ducked to the rail before Ruiz angled him out for a clear stretch run. He rolled by There Are No Words in deep stretch, with Forever Souper another half-length back in third.

Owned by Wertheimer and Frere, Dataman paid $7.20 to win.

After two failed efforts in graded stakes company, Wilson said it may be time to try again.

“He’s just very sharp right now,” said Wilson. “We’re pretty happy with him. He’s two-for-two with stakes wins. We’ll see where we go from here. I’m sure a graded stakes race will be on the horizon. We’ll get back with Graham and talk about that. I don’t see why wouldn’t have another go at one.”

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