06/05/2006 12:00AM

Showdown may be a Summit meeting

Vassar Photography
Carthage wins the Bay Meadows BC Sprint for his fifth consecutive victory.

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Northern California's two top sprinters could be headed to a showdown - in Florida.

Eclipse champion Lost in the Fog returned to winning ways, capturing the Grade 3, $131,450 at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The 1 1/4-length victory over Churchill track-record holder Kelly's Landing snapped a two-race losing streak.

On Sunday, Carthage, who defeated Lost in the Fog in his April 22 comeback race in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint, won the Grade 3, $108,125 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint by one length over Trickey Trevor. It was Carthage's fifth straight victory and fourth straight stakes win.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist said the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile at six furlongs- one of the highlights of the Summit of Speed July 15 at Calder- would be next on Lost in the Fog's dance card. Lost in the Fog won the Carry Back at the Summit of Speed last year.

Carthage may also be heading to Florida for the Summit of Speed, although Steve Sherman said he and his father, Art, Carthage's trainer, "haven't talked much" about future prospects after the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The senior Sherman, currently vacationing in Greece, had indicated before the race that he might consider sending the 6-year-old Carthage to Florida for the Summit of Speed.

Steve Sherman did not rule that out but pointed out there is also the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint at five furlongs on the same day. The race is a prep and qualifier for the $250,000 Turf Sprint Championship at Calder, also at five furlongs, on Aug. 5.

Sherman and his father are eager to give Carthage a try on the turf.

Sherman was pleased with Carthage's hard-fought victory Sunday, although he admitted in some ways the win was "all about having the good luck of the draw" with Carthage drawing the outside post.

With the scratch of Peak a Bootrando, only four horses ran Sunday. Although Carthage was an 11-10 favorite, legitimate cases could be made for all four horses in the field.

Carthage and Trickey Trevor, who won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap in his last start, battled head and head through he first half-mile as Bonfante broke a step slowly and Areyoutalkintome hopped in the air at the start.

Carthage is Breeders' Cup-eligible, a fact that the Shermans are well aware of.

"I think you have to ship somewhere down the line, and not just to Golden Gate Fields, to see how he acclimates to different tracks," Steve Sherman said. "You need to do things like that, ship and run, before you can think about the Breeders' Cup."

This year's Breeders' Cup will be run at Churchill Downs.

Not that Sherman is afraid of sending Carthage on the road. He points out that with the showers that frequently occur back East, Carthage might be well suited to tracks there, given his tremendous wet-track ability.

A one-time claimer, Carthage has options that include just staying home, Sherman said.

"We claimed him to win some races and have some fun," he said. "We got him cheap, and he's already earned much more than he cost. We're not forced to go out of town and look for bigger races. The owners are Bay Area people, and they wouldn't mind running at Pleasanton.

"We have nothing to lose whatever we do."

Baze confident in champ

Russell Baze said that Lost in the Fog was like his old self at Churchill Downs. Lost in the Fog sat second behind Exciting Metro early and responded when challenged by Kelly's Landing.

"He relaxed nicely for me," said Baze. "He got a little tired late, and I whacked him a couple times, but he wasn't giving up. Just like his comeback race, I think he'll get a lot out of this race."

Baze also rode the 3-year-old filly Victorina, also trained by Gilchrist, to a third-place finish Saturday at Churchill in the Grade 3, $167,850 Dogwood Breeders' Cup Stakes, her first race at a mile. Victorina is owned by Harry Aleo, owner of Lost in the Fog.

She did not have the smoothest of trips, but she finished well, missing third by a head to Ready to Please. Favored Joint Effort won by a length. Victorina was bumped at the start by the winner and got shuffled back, then rallied wide.

"Going outside was where I wanted to be, but I had to punch her to get there," Baze said. "I would have preferred to shift out gradually."

Turf route in feature slot

Convenient Marquet, who went south and ran second in his turf debut, returns in Wednesday's Bay Meadows feature, a $40,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. He meets Home Port, first across the wire in his past two starts, recent maiden turf sprint winner Bedlam Bertie, and talented turf winners Ferndale Sal and Two Trails.

Earlier on the card, there is a strong 2-year-old maiden filly race.

* Saturday's $65,000 Hillsborough Handicap at one mile on the grass course drew 19 nominees, including a number who have won or placed in turf stakes.