Unlike last year, when he made his sixth start in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. II), Lost in the Fog will be making only his third start of the year when he tries for a repeat victory in the "Summit of Speed" at Calder Saturday. He's entered in the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) this year.
The plan, according to trainer Greg Gilchrist, is to have a fresher horse for the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
By the time the Breeders' Cup rolled around last year, "The Fog" had lifted after having traveled all over the country without a rest, and he was no longer the elusive a target he had been all year. Now in full view of his opponents, he was defeated for the first time in his career. Gilchrist and owner Harry Aleo want to make sure that doesn't happen again this year.
"We sat down after the Breeders' Cup and I told Mr. Aleo, if the Breeders' Cup was the final goal, we should come in a little fresher than we did last year," Gilchrist said on a national teleconference Tuesday. "That means less travel and fewer races. We decided to spot him along and have only four or five races leading up to it."
When Lost in the Fog was upset in his first start of year in the Oakland Tribune Golden Gate Fields Sprint Stakes at 2-5 by the vastly improved speedster, Carthage, Gilchrist became concerned over what he hoped was not the beginning of a prolonged losing streak, especially considering the son of Lost Soldier
had won his first 10 career starts.
"The Breeders' Cup was just not our day," Gilchrist said. "He had too many races and too much traveling, and just got outrun. It was probably my fault he came up short in his first start this year, although I did say that it wouldn't be his best race of the year. Those two defeats you could explain, but once you start stringing losses together it gets hard to explain in regard to the rest of his career and his potential as a stallion. I figured, if he was going to get beat, let it be in a bigger arena, so we decided to go to Churchill Downs (for the group III Aristides Breeders' Cup)."
Lost in the Fog returned to his winning ways in the Aristides, defeating a strong field in 1:08.52, and now he attempts to continue his new streak in the Smile Sprint.
He romped in the six-furlong Carry Back by 7 1/4 lengths last year.
"One reason we came back is because he handled the track so well last year," Gilchrist said. "Of course, you don't know if it'll be exactly like it was then. I looked up what I did last year, and I've tried to duplicate that. He shipped well and is training well, and we know he handles heat. We only take it one race at a time, but if he should run well on Saturday, we could look at races at Del Mar or Saratoga."
The two races Gilchrist alluded to are the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Aug. 20 or the Forego Handicap (gr. I) Sept. 2, both at seven furlongs.
"In my estimation, he's as good as he was last year," Gilchrist said. "I'm the wrong person to ask if he's held as high in the public's perception, but I do know he hasn't forgotten how to run. It's just that he's an older horse now, and the competition gets tougher."