01/27/2006 1:00AM

Lost in the Fog excels in spotlight

Lost in the Fog romps to a 4 3/4 length-victory in the King's Bishop at Saratoga, the only Grade 1 win of his 8-for-9 championship season.

It is rare for a sprinter to capture the public's imagination like Lost in the Fog did last season. But not many sprinters have had the kind of year Lost in the Fog had in 2005, one that rewarded the speedy and well-traveled 3-year-old with an Eclipse Award as the nation's premier sprinter.

A son of Lost Soldier and Cloud Break, launched his career with a pair of spectacular victories at 2. He proved those performances weren't flukes in his first two starts of 2005 with one-sided wins at Gulfstream Park in the Sunshine Millions Dash and the Grade 2 Swale Handicap.

Both his owner, Harry Aleo, 85, a native of San Francisco, and his savvy trainer, Greg Gilchrist, 57, resisted the temptation to put the inexperienced colt on the grueling path toward the Kentucky Derby. Aleo even turned down offers from others willing to pay for the privilege of doing so themselves.

Instead, Gilchrist mapped out a well-calculated itinerary for Lost in the Fog, one that allowed him to showcase Lost in the Fog's talents from coast to coast, including three times on the demanding New York stage, where he gave a flawless performance on each occasion.

Lost in the Fog first came to the Big Apple for Aqueduct's Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes, and registered another one-sided tally. He returned on Belmont Day for the the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Handicap, sharing near-equal billing with Preakness winner Afleet Alex. Neither disappointed their public that afternoon, as Lost in the Fog preceded Afleet Alex's performance in the Belmont Stakes with a 1 1/4-length victory.

Following a midsummer visit to steamy south Florida to capture the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes at Calder, Lost in the Fog came back to New York for his first Grade 1 appearance, in Saratoga's King's Bishop Stakes. As a testament to Lost in the Fog's talent, trainer Nick Zito passed on a possible confrontation with Lost in the Fog in the King's Bishop and instead ran the Kentucky Derby favorite Bellamy Road in the Travers Stakes. As expected, Lost in the Fog put on another impressive performance in the King's Bishop, earning his only Grade 1 victory.

Following an easy tune-up in his first start against older horses in the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap, Lost in the Fog was bound for New York again for the biggest test of his career, the Breeders' Cup Sprint. This time Lost in the Fog was unable to live up to all the hype. After engaging in a four-horse speed duel and emerging with a short lead in early stretch, Lost in the Fog tired through the final furlong to finish seventh, six lengths behind the winner, Silver Train.

Lost in the Fog concluded his championship campaign with 8 wins in 9 starts, earnings of $844,550 and, as was the case with most of those eight victories, he captured the Eclipse Award vote by a lopsided margin. Better yet, he'll be back to defend that title in 2006.