09/02/2006 12:00AM

'Ghost' in reappearance


ALBANY, Calif. - The millionaire Texcess, Grade 2 winner Spellbinder, and local multiple stakes winner Sharp Writer are among the eight runners in the Grade 3, $150,000 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Monday. But they will have to beat Gotaghostofachance, who returns off a long layoff in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Gotaghostofachance has more than a ghost of a chance here, even though he will be making his first start since winning the seven-furlong Grade 2 Sport Page last October at Belmont.

"He's a pretty good horse, the real deal," said his trainer, Roger Stein. "He's very good."

Gotaghostofachance moved to Stein's barn last year after being privately purchased. Returning from an 11-month layoff, he took the lead in the lane but was caught by Imperialism in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien at Del Mar. He was fourth in the Grade 1 Ancient Title after having nowhere to run into the lane.

In the Sport Page, he was pinched back early and had traffic problems before unleashing a strong kick to pass four horses in the closing yards and win by a half-length.

"If you hear a call of the race, he doesn't get a call until the final 20 yards," Stein said. "I knew if he could get out at midstretch, he'd have a chance. I saw the horse coming, but I don't think the announcer did."

Although Stein was able to give Gotaghostofachance a pair of strong workouts after the Sport Page, a minor problem that cropped up after the race sent the 5-year-old gelding to the sidelines for more than seven months.

He has six works for his 2006 debut despite another minor setback following a three-furlong bullet on July 3.

"The distance is not a problem," said Stein, pointing to Gotaghosto-

fachance's initial stakes victory, at one mile and 70 yards.

"He might be a work short, but I don't think they were willing to push the race back for me. I would have loved to work him seven-eighths a couple times."

Gotaghostofachance's final work was a sizzling 1:11.40 after which he galloped out strongly.

"He's a horse that gets a lot out of his works," Stein said, "but it's a little different working and running."

Gotaghostofachance and Cooperation were supplemented to the race for $2,000.