11/06/2010 4:52PM

Dakota Phone up at wire in Dirt Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Dakota Phone (left) gets by Morning Line at the wire to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Any lingering disappointment trainer Jerry Hollendorfer may have felt after Blind Luck lost Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic was eradicated when his longshot Dakota Phone powered down the center of the Churchill Downs stretch to run down Morning Line and win the $1 million Dirt Mile by a head.

“Our horse yesterday gave her best, and she didn’t just quite get there,” said Hollendorfer, referring to Blind Luck. “We were happy to win this though to make up for it a little bit.”

It was the first Breeders’ Cup win for Hollendorfer, who is the fourth-leading trainer in Thoroughbred history in terms of wins but somehow is not a member of the Hall of Fame.

It came with a most unlikely horse. Dakota Phone had won just once in his last 19 starts. But that win came in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in July, which was a Win and You’re In race, meaning he earned an automatic berth into the Dirt Mile.

Holledorfer said he brought the horse here from Southern California because he thought the horse had a chance, but only if he got a fast pace in which to close.

He got that as Vineyard Haven, Morning Line, and Hurricane Ike roared out of the gate and dueled through a quarter in 22.41 seconds. Alan Garcia took Vineyard Haven off that early pace, but Morning Line and Hurricane Ike continued to battle through a half-mile in 44.94.

Joel Rosario, meanwhile, had Dakota Phone in last position down the backside, some 12 lengths off the early lead.

Morning Line, under Javier Castellano, was able to put away the other speed horses turning for home, and it appeared that he was on his way to victory when he came to the eighth pole with a 1 1/2-length advantage.

Rosario swung Dakota Phone around the turn and had him seven wide in the stretch, but he rallied strongly to nail Morning Line in the final strides to get the win. Dakota Phone, a 5-year-old gelded son of Zavata owned by John Carver, George Todaro, Halo Farms, and Hollendorfer, covered the mile in 1:35.29 and returned $77.40 to win. Morning Line finished second 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Gayego.

“I always had him in the clear and on the outside, and he has a big long stride,” Rosario said. “He always tries, he’s a nice little horse. They were really going fast up front, and I just took my time.”

Morning Line, who was headstrong in the post parade, ran a game race to hold second. It was yet another second place for trainer Nick Zito, who had runner-up finishes this year in the Kentucky Derby, Travers, and Belmont Stakes.

“I’m running out of things to say,” said Zito, who also finished fourth with Cool Coal Man. “I didn’t want him to go that fast.”

Trainer Charles Lopresti said Here Comes Ben, the 5-2 favorite who finished 11th, came back with a cut on his left front ankle.

“A horse hit him, and it just knocked him off stride a little bit,” Lopresti said. “I thought he bobbled when he left the gate. Alex [Solis] told me that’s what happened and then down the backside he said he wasn’t comfortable. I don’t think it’s that bad, but we’re going to check him out.”