12/31/2010 3:24PM

Dakota Phone gets easy tune-up for San Pasqual

Tom Keyser
Dakota Phone, upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in in November, will make his next start in next Saturday's San Pasqual Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif – Jockey Joel Rosario jogged Dakota Phone in front of an empty grandstand at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, and yelled in the direction of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who was standing about 30 yards away. Rosario wanted advice on how quickly to work the winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“How fast do you want me to work – 56, 57?” Rosario said, grinning, knowing that was far from the 6-year-old Dakota Phone’s style.

“Yeah, make it 57,” Hollendorfer said.

Santa Anita’s new sand-and-clay track has produced fast workouts and fast race times since it was installed last month, but Dakota Phone had none of that on Friday. Rosario worked Dakota Phone alone, going five furlongs in 1:01.20. Hollendorfer timed Dakota Phone in 1:01.41, with a final furlong in 11.75 seconds.

A slower time than a joking Rosario had proposed was no concern to Hollendorfer. “He’s not a work horse,” he said.

Afterward, Hollendorfer pronounced Dakota Phone ready for his 2011 debut in the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles next Saturday.

Dakota Phone pulled a 37-1 upset in the BC Dirt Mile, rallying from last to win by a head over Morning Line. Dakota Phone did not fare as well in his next start, the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap on a synthetic track at Hollywood Park last month. He finished fourth as the 8-5 favorite, 2 3/4 lengths behind Aggie Engineer.

Hollendorfer said that Dakota Phone was a victim of a slow pace that day – six furlongs in 1:15.49 – and raced in mid-pack instead of his customary position at the back of the field.

The pace may be quicker in the San Pasqual, especially since the front-running Aggie Engineer is back in the race.

“We don’t know what will happen on dirt,” Hollendorfer said. “The pace has been quicker on dirt than synthetic, so it depends.”

Beyond the San Pasqual, Hollendorfer has not finalized plans, though a race such as the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5 is a possibility.

Hollendorfer delayed a workout for Blind Luck from Friday to Saturday after expressing concern about the racetrack.

“The track is pretty hard this morning and we don’t have to do it,” he said.

Blind Luck, the winner of five stakes in 2010, is being pointed for the El Encino Stakes on Jan. 16.

Friday was a busy morning on the racetrack, with 276 recorded workouts.