01/27/2005 12:00AM

'He looked fast' - even as a yearling

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A fast horse is a joy to behold. Perhaps because truly fast horses enjoy their racing so much, they seem to communicate some of that enthusiasm for the game to spectators. And among the fast and the fleet racing in the , Lost in the Fog appears to be the quickest 3-year-old colt on the card.

In his two races, the unbeaten son of Lost Soldier has run Beyer Speed Figures of 103 and 109, and that puts him in a very special group of racers. Few horses achieve speed figures like those during the course of their careers, and fewer still begin racing with that level of achievement.

Bred in Florida by Susan Seper, Lost in the Fog has been a special colt from the beginning.

"Lost in the Fog was a grand baby," Seper said. "The first foals out of his dam were okay, but I started to look at her pedigree, saw that the best horses had Northern Dancer in them, and I loved Lost Soldier," who is a grandson of Northern Dancer by Danzig.

A horse with quality and balance who stands 16 hands, Lost Soldier is one of five stakes winners out of the grand Secretariat mare Lady Winborne, also the dam of Grade 1 winners Al Mamoon and La Gueriere.

Lost Soldier was also a very sound horse, winning 11 of his 45 races, and soundness was a desirable trait in Seper's plan for the mating that produced Lost in the Fog.

The colt is out of the Dr. Carter mare Cloud Break, whom Seper "bought sight unseen out of a field in Kentucky." What she saw, she liked, and Seper described the mare as standing "16-2 to 16-3 with a huge girth, attractive head," and generally similar to her sire.

As a yearling, the unraced Cloud Break had sold for $3,500 at the Fasig-Tipton Eastern September yearling sale at Timonium in Maryland. Not only was Cloud Break unraced, Seper said, "I'm not even sure she was ever broken. She is not perfect on her front legs but has never been unsound."

Even so, soundness was a central issue for Seper.

"I try to raise racehorses, not sales horses," she said. "And Cloud Break passed on very little of her forelegs."

The mare's first two foals were winners, including How About My Place, a stakes-placed runner by Out of Place. Lost in the Fog is his dam's third foal, born when Cloud Break was 10.

Seper sold Lost in the Fog as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale in 2002, where he brought $13,000 from Kelli Mitchell. That was the year's highest price for a Lost Soldier weanling.

Pinhooked into the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s select August yearling sale in 2003, Lost in the Fog brought $48,000 from the Southern Chase Farm of Greg and Karen Dodd. Again, the price was the highest of the year for a Lost Soldier yearling.

When Southern Chase consigned Lost in the Fog to the 2004 OBS March select sale of 2-year-olds in training, the Dodds bought him back for $195,000.

Buying back the colt for such a sum took nerve. In fact, Karen Dodd said, "People thought we were crazy to buy back a Lost Soldier for that kind of money, but he was a really nice colt. We had a written reserve at $199,000, and we brought the horse back home. Greg Gilchrist was the underbidder, and after a week, I told my husband to call and tell him he ought to buy this horse." And Gilchrist bought the colt on behalf of Harry Aleo.

Having previously sold a good stakes winner to Gilchrist, Dodd said, "We knew Greg well enough to know he had a little confidence in us. The colt had some shins, and we kept him here and got them cooled out."

Given time, Lost in the Fog has become the colt everyone hoped he would be.

The Dodds bought Lost in the Fog as a yearling because "he was an exceptionally balanced horse," Karen Dodd said. "He wasn't overly tall, but he was mature for his age. In our experience, horses who aren't so huge seem to stay sounder longer.

"He had a powerful hind end and hind leg. We think that is important for speed, and he looked fast, although nobody knew he was that fast."

In his second start, Lost in the Fog ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.55 to win the Arizona Juvenile, with internal fractions of 21.80 seconds, 43.78, and 1:07.26.

Now the dam of a lightning-fast stakes winner, Cloud Break has gone the way of all flesh. She has been sold to a breeder in Kentucky. Cloud Break has a 2-year-old colt by Devil's Bag, was not bred back in 2003, and was barren to Unbridled Time last year.

Although Lost Soldier had stood his entire stud career in Florida, Doug Arnold, owner of Buck Pond Farm near Versailles, Ky., bought Lost Soldier from the estate of the late owner-breeder John Franks, and the stallion will cover his first Kentucky mares in 2005.

Lost Soldier stands for $7,500 live foal, but stud fees and stallion valuations are as fluid as any other commodity.

"If Lost in the Fog wins this race," Arnold said, "the impact on Lost Soldier will be unbelievable. Everybody will want to breed to him."