07/31/2010 9:27PM

Del Mar: Saturday was Dakota's day


Dakota Phone's first stakes win in almost two years in Saturday's $200,000 San Diego Handicap was helped by a weak field in the Grade 2 stakes and an ideal ride by jockey Joel Rosario.

The San Diego did not include recent Hollywood Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem, who was held out in favor of the Pacific Classic on Aug. 28, or Rail Trip, who won two stakes earlier this year at Hollywood Park and has since been sent to the East Coast. Misremembered, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap in March, is recovering from injury and will return to racing in the fall. Richard's Kid, who won the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, could only finish third in Friday's lesser Cougar II Handicap.

So, Dakota Phone beat the runners who showed up, and Rosario gave the 5-year-old gelding a cracking ride. Wide rallies were successful on Saturday, and Rosario used that style to guide Dakota Phone from last to first through the final 2 1-2 furlongs of the San Diego, outfinishing the turf stakes winner Battle of Hastings by a half-length.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Dakota Phone will be pointed for the Pacific Classic. He will need a career best race to win that Grade 1 over 1 1-4 miles. Dakota Phone gave the best performance of his career on Saturday, over a course that favored his style.