06/11/2005 12:00AM

No cigar for Lost in the Fog's foes

Lost in the Fog (right) was put to the test by Egg Head (left), but gradually drew clear to score a 1 1/4-length win in Saturday's Riva Ridge.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Imagine a 12-round fight in which the champion has to fend off a fresh challenger every four rounds. That's what Lost in the Fog was faced with in the Grade 2, $170,000 on Saturday at Belmont Park, and the nation's best 3-year-old sprinter scored a knockout to remain unbeaten after seven starts.

Starting from post 2, Lost in the Fog was hooked early by Going Wild. When that colt dropped away midway on the turn, Middle Earth took up the chase. And after Lost in the Fog turned back Middle Earth, Egg Head loomed menacingly at the top of the stretch.

With his speed expertly rationed by jockey Edgar Prado, Lost in the Fog had something left, as he always does. Egg Head got within a half-length of Lost in the Fog at the eighth pole, but Lost in the Fog slowly inched away to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:21.54 for seven furlongs on the fast main track. Egg Head was second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Middle Earth.

"We knew they were going to take shots at us. The race set up that way," said trainer Greg Gilchrist, who has shrewdly managed Lost in the Fog's career. "Edgar rode him good. He saved something for the end."

Prado was riding the northern California-based Lost in the Fog for the first time. Lost in the Fog's regular rider, Russell Baze, fractured his collarbone in an accident at Golden Gate Fields on Wednesday.

"I hit him once, he kept on going, and then I couldn't pull him up," Prado told Gilchrist. "Every time I asked for a little more, he gave it to me."

Lost in the Fog ($2.80) took a few strides to get into gear, but he was in front within 150 yards and led after an opening quarter-mile in 22.22 seconds. He kept up the same cruising speed to the half, which he hit in 44.45.

"He can run his second quarter as fast as his first quarter," Gilchrist said. "That's what separates him."

Egg Head, who was making his first start since being privately purchased by a group that includes trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, ran well, but was second best.

"He ran great," said McLaughlin. "I'm proud of our horse. We just need to go where Lost in the Fog isn't. If we can find a race without Lost in the Fog, we'll have a lot of fun."

Lost in the Fog is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, so he earned $90,000 for owner Harry Also for this victory, instead of the $120,000 he would have made had he been eligible for the extra purse funds.