06/28/2005 11:00PM

Servis shouts 'April fool' in June

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Put a circle on your calendar around Travers Day, when the unbeaten sprinter Lost in the Fog is scheduled to run in the King's Bishop.

PHILADELPHIA - July is the bridge between the Triple Crown, Del Mar, Saratoga, and the fall championship season. It is a time to reflect - to look back, look ahead, and ask some questions, some of which even have answers.

What exactly have we learned as we hit the halfway mark of the racing season? What made sense? What did not?

It was nice to see Ghostzapper again, but we were all hoping for a little more than 1:33.29. When I think of him, I will think of 128, 123, and those other entire monster Beyers. I will think of trainer Bobby Frankel saying after the Metropolitan Handicap how thrilled he was to have a horse comparable to Spectacular Bid and Affirmed, a horse that nobody could beat.

In this sport, you take what you can get. You consider what could have been. Then, you move on, too quickly sometimes. But you do move on.

* What was going on in Philadelphia two weeks ago when John Servis went on the sports talk station one morning and said he was ready to accept the host's challenge of a match race between this year's Philly hero, Afleet Alex, and last year's Philly hero, Smarty Jones?

Servis said Smarty would be coming back in two weeks to resume training. The host, knowing nothing about horse racing, was celebrating. Television stations jumped all over the story. Servis got so many phone messages that he lost count.

It was a prank. The host had blasted Servis and the the owners of Smarty Jones, the Chapmans, the year before when Smarty was retired. Servis thought he would have some fun.

The chances of getting Smarty out of Midway, Ky., to become a racehorse again, even assuming he could withstand training and had recovered from his leg miseries, were nil.

Servis called back the next morning and explained himself. He figures he's even with the host now.

Still, who wouldn't want to see that race? Would it be at Philadelphia Park or Delaware Park?

Speaking of Afleet Alex, is it fair to question him because the quality of his competition was so weak? Sure, it's fair.

The Beyers, however, suggest it would also be wrong. Alex is a top-class 3-year-old who could compete with the two best 3-year-olds of the new century - Point Given and Smarty Jones.

* Has any horse in recent years been better managed than Lost in the Fog? Trainer Greg Glichrist mapped out a plan and has never wavered.

Every Lost in the Fog sighting is an event. How fast will he go? What will the fractions be? Will any horse challenge him?

Horse racing is an event-driven sport without enough events. Given the everyday nature of the sport and the need for the participants to make a living, that is not going to change. But Belmont Day was very special, knowing that, within two hours, you were going to get a chance to see Lost in the Fog and Afleet Alex.

That plans are for it to happen again on Travers Day (Travers for Alex, King's Bishop for Lost in the Fog) is why all of us keep coming back. That and superfectas.

* What is up with the seven-day suspensions and $5,000 fines for those three riders who wore ads on their pants in the Kentucky Derby? Didn't the courts solve that issue in favor of the riders before the 2004 Derby? Why exactly do the Kentucky stewards (or anybody else beyond horse owners) even care or have any voice in this? Why does the fine seem so draconian, in relation to what typically happens to a rider when he commits an infraction that could potentially injure a fellow rider?

So it is on to the second half of the year. Can Afleet Alex keep it going? Can he get better? Can anybody beat Lost in the Fog? How good is Saint Liam? Is Bellamy Road coming back? And which six-figure Breeders' Cup super am I going to take down?