11/04/2005 1:00AM

Lost in the Fog back down on farm

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Eight days ago he was the talk of the Big Apple and a presumed legend in the making. Nowadays, Lost in the Fog is getting some quiet R and R at Greg and Karen Dodd's Southern Chase Farm in Williston, Fla. The scenery is familiar to the big brown colt, for it's where his professional career began two years ago.

Williston is on the northern fringe of Florida's Thoroughbred heartland. There is a lot of empty space in rural Levy County, and in the middle of this emptiness is Southern Chase Farm, 430 acres with two big barns, a half-mile training track, and a Chantilly-like network of bridle paths. The family name Dodd is a familiar one in this region of cattle and Quarter Horses. Thoroughbreds, however, are now the Dodd family's principal commodities.

Karen Dodd's history with horses starts with show horses and Quarter Horses.

"Thought about trying to make a living with Quarter Horses," recalled Dodd, a former Tampa resident. "But, all I ever saw were cowboys with fancy pickup trucks. Each had a fancy suitcase - none seemed to making any money. Not for me, I said to myself."

A friend of Karen introduced her to Thoroughbreds, and after gaining some confidence she was ready to dabble in some pinhooking. She went to the Kentucky sales, and there she met Greg Dodd, who had also made the break from Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds. Their relationship matured, and eventually they married.

Success in the Thoroughbred business has been steady, Greg Dodd acknowledges, but not easy. The forte of the Dodds is to seek resalable horses of all ages.

"We sell between 20 and 30 horses a year," said Karen Dodd. "We sell 'em as weanlings, yearlings ,and 2 year-olds in training. We also have 10 broodmares."

"We're always in the market to buy, too," said Greg Dodd. "I mean if we go to a sale and see a horse that we feel is going to be a better-looking horse down the road, we go for it if the price is right. You know, some attractive weanlings get awkward and sloppy as yearlings, only to come back as attractive 2 year-olds."

The Lost in the Fog saga began at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's August 2003 yearling sale. A son of Lost Soldier, Lost in the Fog was in the consignment of Kelli Mitchell, agent. It was Mitchell who told Karen Dodd about the colt, but Greg Dodd was not turned on by the colt's pedigree, so Lost in the Fog was given a pass.

"I don't know exactly why I was at Kelli's barn," said Greg Dodd. "I saw Lost in the Fog for the first time, and I really liked what I saw. So, after asking Kelli if the colt was okay, and getting an affirmative, we went to $47,000 for a yearling that we didn't have on our original pinhooking list."

One of Southern Chase Farms more successful sales alumni is Beyond Brilliance, bought some years earlier by Lost in the Fog's owner-trainer team of Harry Aleo and Greg Gilchrist. Those two liked Lost in the Fog when they saw him at the Ocala spring 2004 sale of 2-year-olds in training. The colt, however, failed to bring his reserve. The next day Aleo and Gilchrist went back to northern California.

"I thought I'd have to race him," said Greg Dodd.

"I thought we should sell him," countered Karen Dodd. "We did not have much luck racing in the past, and it wasn't our thing. So, Greg made a phone call to Greg Gilchrist and we made a deal to sell him for $140,000, below our reserve, but profitable any way you look at it."

The Dodds, as one might expect, are usually trackside when Lost in the Fog starts.

"I am not making excuses for him in the Breeders' Cup Sprint," said Karen Dodd. "But he was not himself last week. He's always alert and likes to bite you - not mean, but letting you know he's ready. This past week he was kind of listless, like he had jet lag."

"He's changed a lot," said Greg Dodd. "He was more of a sprinter type conformation-wise when he was a 2-year-old and earlier this year. You know - round, full quarters. Now he's getting more streamlined."

Karen Dodd, anticipating the question, was quick to say that she thinks Lost in the Fog will be a better middle-distance horse than a sprinter as he ages. "Got a turf foot, too," she noted.

Losing the BC Sprint has not diminished Lost in the Fog's celebrity status. People call the farm daily and ask if they can stop by and have pictures taken with the Eclipse Award contender.

"A fan phoned me from St. Petersburg, Florida," said Greg Dodd. "He asked if I would sell him one of Lost in the Fog's shoes. He wanted it for his granddaughter.

"It's sure nice to know that Lost in the Fog has fans of all ages."