10/31/2005 12:00AM

Lost in the Fog rattled in barn, Gilchrist says

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Lost in the Fog, with Russell Baze, suffered his first loss in the Sprint.

ELMONT, N.Y. - At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, 45 minutes before Lost in the Fog would walk over to the Belmont Park security barn and almost seven hours before post time for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, trainer Greg Gilchrist said: "I think the holding barn will be an advantage for us, because we've been through it before. I guarantee at least a half-dozen horses in today's Breeders' Cup will not run their races because of their experience in the holding barn."

Little did Gilchrist realize that one of those horses might have been his.

Gilchrist first showed signs of concern at about 9:15 a.m., a half-hour after Lost in the Fog arrived at the security area or "Stalag 17," as Gilchrist laughingly referred to it earlier that morning. Usually calm, Lost in the Fog was "pretty riled up," Gilchrist said.

"I've never seen him act like this before," Gilchrist said.

Six hours later, on the walkover to the paddock less than 30 minutes before perhaps the most important race of his career, Gilchrist again appeared quietly anxious when he was asked how Lost in the Fog had handled the remainder of his security barn experience.

"He got to fretting a bit," Gilchrist said on the way to the paddock.

"I've never seen him get excited like this before," he said, adding later that he had to use a lip chain on Lost in the Fog to put his bandages on.

Gilchrist seemed uncomfortable talking about the unsettled state of Lost in the Fog.

As the television cameras zoomed in on Lost in the Fog and a huge throng of well wishers gathered to welcome their hero into the paddock, there was little doubt from Gilchrist's tone and the look on his face that the subject was weighing heavily on his mind.

When the gate opened, Lost in the Fog broke a step slowly and was hung four wide disputing what for him was a relatively moderate pace. He gained a short lead into the stretch but had little left in the tank at the eighth pole, finishing seventh as the 3-5 favorite in the Sprint.

"When he came past the quarter pole, I thought everything was all right, then a couple horses came back by him," Gilchrist said. "He basically only ran a half-mile. He didn't come back exhausted. He just came up empty the final three-sixteenths. He just didn't go out and give his performance."

Gilchrist was understandably disappointed, but he handled the defeat as well as he has handled Lost in the Fog's entire 3-year-old campaign when he was mobbed by reporters immediately after the race. He talked about how the fractions - 22.01, 44.56 - were certainly not anything Lost in the Fog hadn't dealt with before. He said Lost in the Fog had been hung wide but "not too wide" during the early stages of the race, and how he actually liked the fact Lost in the Fog was third turning for home. And then, almost as an afterthought, he mentioned the security barn experience.

"He was very nervous in the holding barn," said Gilchrist. "He acted like a worried horse. He wasn't comfortable with the whole situation. But I'm not blaming the holding barn or using it as an excuse. Excuses are for losers, and I don't want to be taking anything away from the winner. He just didn't have it in him today. It just wasn't meant to be."

Gilchrist said he scoped Lost on the Fog after the race and determined he hadn't bled.

Lost in the Fog will spend the rest of the year at the Southern Chase Farm in Ocala, Fla., owned by Karen and Greg Dodd, who actually sold Lost in the Fog to Harry Aleo for $140,000. Gilchrist said he'll wait before mapping out any plans for Lost in the Fog's 4-year-old campaign, but confirmed that he hopes to stretch Lost in the Fog out around two turns.

"He'll certainly get November and December and quite possibly January," Gilchrist said. "I don't think he'll need any more than that."

Despite suffering the first loss of his career in the Sprint, Lost in the Fog accomplished enough during the year to still be considered a favorite to win the Eclipse Award in the sprint division. But on Saturday, for whatever reason, he didn't have his "A" game.

- additional reporting by Chuck Dybdal