02/01/2005 12:00AM

Riding the equine rollercoaster


SAN MATEO, Calif. - In the span of less than a half-hour, trainers Greg Gilchrist and Jeff Bonde experienced the highs and lows of horse racing.

At Gulfstream Park in Florida, Gilchrist watched Lost in the Fog improve his record to 3-for-3 with a victory in the Sunshine Millions Dash for 3-year-olds. The colt won $137,500 and lifted his career earnings to $182,075, while earning his third straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure (102).

Gilchrist and owner Harry Aleo know they have a superior sprinter, but he is a 3-year-old, and it's only natural to face questions about whether to point him to the Kentucky Derby, even though the colt has never run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I don't think either of us is thinking Derby right now," said Aleo, who has turned down substantial offers for the colt.

Gilchrist said, "There's not much temptation for me to put this horse on the Derby trail."

Gilchrist said he would eventually try to stretch the colt out and mentioned the Grade 2 Swale Stakes, a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream on March 5, as a possibility for the colt's next start.

Gilchrist was still being interviewed in the winner's circle in Florida when the Bonde-trained Green Team broke from the gate running at Santa Anita in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

The fractions were fast, and he was on the lead, running smoothly and easily. After passing the three-eighths pole, jockey Roberto Gonzalez snuck a quick peak under his right arm and liked what he saw.

No one was making a move, so he kept a snug hold on Green Team. But within a few strides, Green Team took a bad step and fractured a sesamoid, and had to be euthanized. Gonzalez escaped the accident without serious injury.

"All my angels were with me," Gonzalez said. "I'm glad no one was beginning to pressure him yet because I still had a hold of him. If I'd been asking him to run, he probably would have fallen, and it would have been a bad spill."

Winning and losing

Matthew Rose, a relative newcomer to the sport, recently learned firsthand about the highs and lows of being an owner.

Before he bought his first horse, Rose met with several trainers at Golden Gate Fields to learn about owning horses. He immediately hit it off with trainer Andy Mathis and became a partner with Mathis in Risky Endeavor the same day they met.

The first time Rose claimed a horse, he took Rightbyu from a victory in a $5,000 sprint at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 29. But in her first workout for Mathis, Rightbyu broke down. She survived the injury but will never race again.

"That was about the worst [news] I've gotten," said Rose. "We had planned to enter her a week later, but she stepped in a hole or something.

"Andy had to call me when she was going in for X-rays, and it didn't look good. She can never race again, but I'm glad she's all right. We've already found her a home and gave her away to be a broodmare. She earned the right to be saved. It would have been awful to have to put her down."

Rose has claimed two more horses, Tizwas and Face Down Dave, who are scheduled to run as an entry in an $8,000 claimer at Bay Meadows on Thursday.

Rose's first horse, Risky Endeavor, made her comeback after a four-month freshener last Thursday and won a $4,000 sprint.

"It was just like watching your child run around the bases in a Little League game," said Rose.

But Rose, who was accompanied by his mother and daughter, didn't even get to pose for a winner's circle photo because another horse had broken down at the finish line and had to be put down on the track.

* A field of six, including Sister Mary Hugh and B.Z. Jones, meet in Thursday's Bay Meadows feature, a 1 3/8-mile turf race. B.Z. Jones won at the distance over the Bay Meadows turf course last fall and appears the one to beat.