02/27/2006 1:00AM

'Fog' stumbles after work, but appears okay

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ALBANY, Calif. - The big horses were out Sunday when Cause to Believe and Lost in the Fog both turned in solid drills under jockey Russell Baze at Golden Gate Fields.

Lost in the Fog gave Baze, trainer Greg Gilchrist, and owner Harry Aleo a fright at the end of his workout, stumbling twice as he was pulling up, but Gilchrist could find nothing wrong immediately.

Lost in the Fog continued on his weekly workout schedule as he prepares for the April 22 Golden Gate Fields Sprint. After a pair of three-furlong works, he breezed a half-mile in 47.40 seconds, the second-fastest of 59 workers.

"He went through the drill fine, and he seemed to pull up fine," said a tight-lipped Gilchrist, who was concerned about the condition of the track during workouts.

Later, Peter Tunney, Golden Gate Fields's executive vice president, met with Baze and jockey Chad Schvaneveldt to discuss the track surface. The riders told Tunney the track was too loose in the morning and perhaps needed more water.

Lost in the Fog worked immediately after the second break. Because of rain in the forecast, no water was added to the track during the break as it had been during the first break.

Baze was concerned about the looseness of the track and attributed that to Lost in the Fog's bobbles.

"That horse doesn't stumble," Baze said. "He handles everything."

As to the work, Baze raved about the reigning Eclipse Award winner.

"He worked super," Baze said. "I had a good strong hold, but it was click, click, click, 12-second furlongs, although we must have snuck in an 11 along the way. You couldn't ask him to work any better."

Gilchrist's concern about the track and Lost in the Fog's problems was exacerbated by the fact that his undefeated 3-year-old, Frisco Star, also owned by Aleo, came out of the previous Sunday's overnight stakes with a cracked shin that will sideline him for some time.

Cause to Believe turns in a bullet

Cause to Believe, northern California's top 3-year-old, had a bullet 1:12.40 for six furlongs for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who is pointing him to the March 11 California Derby.

Sunday's work was his fourth since winning the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows on Jan. 29 and the third at six furlongs.

"He couldn't be in a better position, just two races away from the big race," said Hollendorfer, who has been on the Derby trail before.

The colt, though, will have to be supplemented for $6,000 to be eligible.

Cause to Believe was supposed to break off five lengths behind a stablemate - "a cheap maiden," said Hollendorfer, without naming the work partner - but ended up breaking about seven lengths behind, said Baze.

"I wasn't planning to start that far behind, but he had no trouble going past him," Baze said. "Jerry wanted to get a little something into him. That's why he worked him in company. He wasn't exhausted after the work. When I stood up on him, he just stopped. He's real good that way, real laid-back and kind on himself."

Gold Ruckus capable on any surface

The turf course, used for the first time this meet on Saturday, is scheduled for two races Wednesday, although stormy weather may cause a shift to the main track. Each race has one entrant who will start only if the race is run on the main track.

In Wednesday's feature, a $32,000 claimer, Gold Ruckus is the one to beat no matter which surface is used. Gold Ruckus is probably a bit better on the turf, but on wet tracks he has won 3 of 6 starts with a second and a third. Gold Ruckus, who has a bankroll of $421,481, likes to sit back and make a late run.

Martinez escapes with minor injuries

Apprentice Luis Martinez had the best day of his career Saturday.

He opened the day by winning both ends of the double, aboard Haint It Hot ($24.60) for trainer Steve Specht and Splendid Nature ($91) for trainer Harry Nelson. The double paid only $394.80; a parlay would have returned more than $1,100.

But the best thing that happened to Martinez all day came in the ninth race, when he avoided what could have been major injuries after At the Time ducked in under left-handed whipping and banged into Martinez's mount, Pampa Kid, who clipped heels and fell, pitching Martinez face-first on the track.

Fortunately, Martinez was not hit by another horse, and although he was removed from the track on a stretcher, he suffered only bruises and cuts to a knee.

He was back riding on Sunday with one win, a second, and a third in seven mounts. Martinez, who made his first start and got his first win last October at the Big Fresno Fair, is fourth in the Golden Gate Fields standings with 10 wins, 12 seconds, and 12 thirds in 83 mounts. He has won with 32 of 317 mounts in his career.

Fellow apprentice Edwin Fernandez, whose ride aboard At the Time caused the accident Saturday, was given a 10-day suspension, and his horse was disqualified from third and placed last. Fernandez's suspension runs from March 5-18.

No wonder Iron Chef likes slop

After Thursday's draw for Sunday's races, trainer Bill McLean checked the overnight sheet and saw that his trainee Iron Chef was in the ninth race on the card.

"That's what I wanted," he told friends that day. "It's supposed to rain Sunday, so I'm glad he's in the last race because maybe the rain will be falling by then, and he likes a wet track."

The rain did fall. The track was sloppy. And Iron Chef, just as McLean predicted, won. By a nose.

Iron Chef's owner? Rex J. Mudd.

* Sierra Sweetie, whose next race is the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 8, had her first work Friday after her victory in the Feb. 11 California Breeders' Cup Oaks. She went a half-mile in an easy 48 seconds flat.