09/04/2009 11:00PM

Bold Chieftain still plenty good enough

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At 6 years old, Bold Chieftain has no doubt lost a couple of steps from his glory days, but he finds himself in a field he should be able to handle in Monday's $75,000 Governor's Handicap at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

A multiple stakes winner and earner of more than $900,000, Bold Chieftain last won 10 starts ago, in the 2008 California Dreamin' at Del Mar, and he hasn't won in six starts this year. Yet he was good enough last October to finish just over five lengths behind Goldikova in the Breeders' Cup Mile, and he has two seconds and a pair of thirds this year, racing mostly in stakes.

"We've gotten beat by a couple that wouldn't have beat him two years ago," said trainer Bill Morey. "If you look at his races, he hasn't run bad. He got beat in some tough ones."

Among those Bold Chieftain faces in the Governor's, run at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, is Autism Awareness, who nipped him at the wire in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields on May 25. Also in the field are Our Partner, who was the runner-up in last year's Governor's, and the stakes-placed 4-year-olds Dance Chief and Captain Roy.

Bold Chieftain has been close several times during his winless streak. He finished third in the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile in April on the Golden Gate turf, beaten only three-quarters of a length. He led in the lane before finishing second in a four-way photo in the Berkeley.

"It's been frustrating, no doubt, but he's healthy and enjoys what he's doing," said Morey, who bred and co-owns the horse with Ernest Langbein, Kenneth Robinson and Dwaine Hall.

He comes off a second to Sierra Sunset in the Alamedan at Pleasanton and a sixth July 26 on turf at Del Mar trying to defend his title in the California Dreamin'. Usually a stalker, Bold Chieftain came from eighth place in that race.

"Garrett Gomez decided to make him a deep closer that day," said Morey. "He was never in the race but only got beat 3 1/2, which wasn't disgraceful."

Our Partner, who won a $40,000 claimer on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 16, looms the likely speed in the race, with Bold Chieftain getting his preferred stalking trip.