03/05/2005 1:00AM

'Fog' takes Swale, shows he can rate

Lost in the Fog cruises to a 4 3/4-length victory in the Swale Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lost in the Fog officially joined the Triple Crown trail on Saturday, and spots on his bandwagon are selling out quickly.

Proving that he could sit off another horse if need be, Lost in the Fog took over from pacesetting More Smoke at the quarter pole and cruised through the stretch to a 4 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $150,000 at Gulfstream. Around the Cape got up for second by three-quarters of a length over More Smoke.

Immediately after the race, trainer Greg Gilchrist said owner Harry Aleo would put up the $6,000 late nomination fee to make Lost in the Fog eligible for the Triple Crown series. However, Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog is still only 50-50 to run in the May 7 Kentucky Derby.

Lost in the Fog, a son of Lost Soldier, is now 4 for 4. The Swale was his first race beyond six furlongs and first in a graded stakes. More important, it was the first time he showed that he could rate off another horse.

More Smoke, under Clinton Potts, rocketed out of the starting gate and set fractions of 22.07 seconds and 44.67 while Lost in the Fog, who broke well from post 10, sat in second under Russell Baze. Lost in the Fog gradually drew on equal terms with More Smoke at the quarter pole before drawing off convincingly.

Lost in the Fog ($3) covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.21 over a dull surface.

"I wanted the horse to lay off another horse," Gilchrist said. "[More Smoke] gave us the perfect opportunity today to do that, and the horse passed the test like he has all of it. I would say the tiredest I've seen my horse is today. But I think the track is very laboring."

Baze said Lost in the Fog was very content to sit off another horse and looks forward to riding him in a two-turn race. The Florida Derby on April 2 or the Santa Anita Derby on April 9, both at 1 1/8 miles, are the two most logical spots.

"He has never done anything to make me believe that he won't go that far," Baze said.