01/21/2005 1:00AM

'Lead' gets relief from big horse


PHOENIX - When trainer Dan McFarlane looked at the entries for Sunday's $40,000 Rattlesnake Stakes at Turf Paradise, he had to be relieved not to see the name Lost in the Fog. His talented 3-year-old Lead for Speed will try a mile for the first time and take on nine others Sunday, when he attempts to rebound from a lopsided defeat to Lost in the Fog, one of the most exciting 2-year-olds of 2004.

When the two horses met in the Arizona Juvenile at Turf Paradise on Dec. 26, Lead for Speed was on a roll. He had won three of his six outings, including the Sail on By Stakes at Turf Paradise on Nov. 2, and finished second in the other three. It wasn't a shock he was sent off at 11-1 against Lost in the Fog in the Arizona Juvenile - the shock was how Lost in the Fog ran, winning by over 14 lengths while earning the highest Beyer Speed Figure by any 2-year-old in 2004, a 109. Lead for Speed chased the winner early but couldn't keep up, holding for third, beaten over 15 lengths.

Lead for Speed faces no one like that here, and he has posted two strong works since, including a super six-furlong work in 1:12.40 here on Monday. Lead for Speed is by Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie, so the route should be to his liking. Wilson Dieguez returns to ride.

Scottsbluff finished second in the Arizona Juvenile, just under a length in front of Lead for Speed. A son of Siberian Summer trained by Kevin Lewis, Scottsbluff is much less experienced than Lead for Speed - the Arizona Juvenile marked his second career start after a smart maiden sprint win here Nov. 20.

Scottsbluff wasn't going to beat Lost in the Fog with a headstart, but his task was made tougher by a sluggish start. Still, he has the speed to be prominent early, and, with his sire being a Grade 1 route winner, the move to a route should be no problem. Regular rider Kelly Bridges remains aboard.

Apache General may be a comer. Trained by Eric Kruljac, Apache General was second in his debut here Nov. 21, and last time, on New Year's Day, he won his maiden by over four lengths. Experience and the addition of Lasix appear to have helped him.