05/29/2010 11:00PM

Race shape could suit Dakota Phone


Will all eyes at Golden Gate Fields be on millionaires Bold Chieftain and Delightful Kiss battling in the stretch of Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap, or will the two veterans be trying to catch Dakota Phone?

Monday's 1 1/16-mile race could prove to be a tactical battle, given its lack of a true front-running type, and that could give Dakota Phone an edge over his classy rivals.

Dakota Phone led for the opening half-mile in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April and has sat in a stalking position in races such as the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, where he finished third this year. A 5-year-old Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding, Dakota Phone has not won since capturing the Forty Niner Handicap in his lone start here on Nov. 25, 2008, but may be able to win on the front end in this race.

Dakota Phone will need all the advantages he can get against the sharp Bold Chieftain, who was caught in the final strides in this race last year but comes into Monday's race with a three-race winning streak that includes the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile in his last start.

Delightful Kiss missed 11 months following an ankle injury suffered while running in the Grade 2 Canadian Turf on Feb. 20, 2009, at Gulfstream Park. He ran third in an allowance comeback and in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap earlier this year at Gulfstream, before running eighth -- behind Dakota Phone -- in the Santa Anita Handicap and fourth -- in front of him -- in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Delightful Kiss has been in Aggie Ordonez's barn at Golden Gate since then for her father, Pete Anderson. Ordonez says her father gave the 6-year-old gelding plenty of time following the ankle injury and says he is 100 percent recovered.

Delightful Kiss won the Grade 3 All American here in 2008.

"It was such a happy experience when he came out here last time," Ordonez said. "I hope we can repeat the experience."

It's hard to find fault with a multiple graded stakes winner who has topped $1 million in earnings, but if Delightful Kiss has a flaw, it's his complete lack of early speed.

"We hope he's back to his old form now," Ordonez said. "Things haven't worked out well, whether because of the trip or the pace. Pace plays such a big role for this horse because of his style."