If there's to be a return to the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) in 2006 for champion sprinter Lost in the Fog, trainer Greg Gilchrist knows one thing for sure – his star should handle the track.
"Foggy" snapped a two-race losing streak Saturday with an impressive 1 1/4-length win in the $131,450 Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), completing the six-furlong event at Churchill Downs in a sharp 1:08 2/5.
The 2006 Breeders' Cup Thoroughbred Championships will be held under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs Nov. 4.
"I'm looking forward to that Breeders' Cup," said owner Harry J. Aleo, Lost in the Fog's 86-year-old owner. "I'd give my right arm to win that one this year."
Ridden by Russell Baze, Lost in the Fog carried 124 pounds, seven more than the runner-up Kelly's Landing, who set a track record of 1:07 2/5 in winning last year's Aristides BC. It was 3 1/4 lengths back to the third-place finisher Level Playingfield. Lost in the Fog, coming off a second-place finish in his first start of 2006 in a stakes race at Golden Gate Fields April 22, was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the field of six.
"Some people have been saying maybe he's over the hill, but he's not," said Baze. "I just let him run his race and he just bolted to the front, and then he relaxed and kind of had his ears back looking for the next challenge. When he (Kelly's Landing) came, I asked him to run and just laid the body down and went on off."
It was the first Churchill Downs stakes victory for Gilchrist, who suffered a heartbreaking loss there in 1994 when his star mare Soviet Problem was passed in the final yards and lost the Breeders' Cup Sprint by a head to Cherokee Run.
"I was just worried about the 124 pounds," said Gilchrist Saturday. "Russell did say that (Lost in the Fog) got a little bit tired, but in the stretch he showed what kind of horse that he is."
Lost in the Fog broke on top before taking back to second as Exciting Metro rushed to the lead on the inside, covering the opening quarter mile in :22. Pressing while four wide on the outside, Lost in the Fog took command midway through the turn after a half-mile in :45. The champ slipped away from his rivals in upper stretch then held steady as Kelly's Landing and Rafael Bejarano loomed dangerously after making a four-wide move coming off the turn. Baze gave Lost in the Fog a couple of taps right-handed in deep stretch and they held Kelly's Landing at bay.
The 4-year-old Florida-bred son of Lost Soldier
picked up his first win since the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap in October, his 10th straight triumph to begin his career. Lost in the Fog was a well beaten seventh in the BC Sprint in his final start of 2005. Trainer Gilchrist thought he raced a tired colt in New York that day and has vowed to travel less this year. The grade I winner has now won 11 of 13 lifetime starts with earnings of $978,099.
Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog would probably make his next start in the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) in the "Summit of Speed" at Florida's Calder Race Course on July 15.
The winner paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Kelly's Landing returned $3.20 and $2.40. Level Playingfield, ridden by John McKee, was $2.80 to show. Pro Prado, Exciting Metro and Cougar Cat followed.
The late scratch of Yes Yes Yes reduced the field to six.