09/28/2005 11:00PM

Speed all that stands between Fog and BC

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Lost in the Fog's connections preferred to keep him in northern California rather than ship to New York for Saturday's Vosburgh.

SAN MATEO, Calif. - The eyes of northern California will be on undefeated Lost in the Fog in Saturday's $100,000 Bay Meadows Speed Handicap.

But for Lost in the Fog's connections - trainer Greg Gilchrist, owner Harry Aleo, and jockey Russell Baze - the real focus is New York and the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Sprint and how this race will prepare the sensational 3-year-old for that test.

Lost in the Fog, the 1-5 favorite on the track program, drew the rail. If he runs his usual race, none of the six horses to his outside can touch him. The race is scheduled to be televised live on the ESPNEWS cable channel at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.

"You can go at it from every angle, but you know who's going to win barring something unforeseen," said Jerry Hollendorfer, who saddles the entry of Jeffries Bay and Halo Cat. "The rest of us are running for second, third, fourth, and fifth money."

, 3, has won all nine of his races, including three straight graded stakes. He is coming off a victory in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga, with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure. Halo Cat has the highest last-race Beyer of the rest of the field, a 96. Two starts back, Lost in the Fog won the Grade 2 Carry Back at Calder, earning a career-high Beyer of 116.

Gilchrist decided on the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap as the best of three options to prepare Lost in the Fog for the Sprint. He also considered training Lost in the Fog up to the Sprint, or running in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont on Saturday. Both the Vosburgh and the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap are for 3-year-olds and up; Lost in the Fog has never run against older.

"There are pluses and minuses with each option," Gilchrist said.

A $500,000 race, the Vosburgh would have meant more money. But with such top sprinters as Pomeroy and Woke Up Dreamin, the Vosburgh would have been tougher for Lost in the Fog, who would have remained at Belmont for a month before the Breeders' Cup.

Aleo, who lives in San Francisco, left the final decision to Gilchrist but made his preferences known.

"We had a chance to go in the Vosburgh, but I would rather run here in front of my friends," Aleo said. "I want people in northern California to see him run."

Lost in the Fog probably has the most early speed and likely will sprint clear from the rail, but Stormin' Lyon and the seemingly overmatched claimer No Derby also have good speed.

"If somebody wants the lead, that's fine," Gilchrist said. "We would rather draw outside, but he's a pretty experienced horse now. It's not like he hasn't seen pressure early before."

The Hollendorfer entrants, Jeffries Bay and Halo Cat, are drawn next to Lost in the Fog in posts 2 and 3 and could present the strongest challenges. Halo Cat, who won his first start in nine months on Sept. 5, gets seven pounds from Lost in the Fog, and the 4-year-old Jeffries Bay, good enough to win an allowance race at Keeneland last year, gets nine pounds.

But if the race plays out like it looks on paper, Lost in the Fog will head to Belmont on a 10-race winning streak and, Gilchrist hopes, ready to run his best race yet.

"First of all, I would like to win it," said Gilchrist of Saturday's race. "But I want a fresh horse for the 29th of October. I want him to go over and get tired and get something out of the race. I'm hoping for a good experience."

The field

Bay Meadows Speed Handicap
Purse: $100,000; 6 furlongs

1Lost in the FogR. Baze1231-5
2a-Jeffries BayF. Alvarado1146-1
3a-Halo CatC. Schvaneveldt1166-1
4Thirsty Guy'sM. Rodriguez11412-1
5Seattles Best JoeD. Carr11215-1
6No DerbyB. Harvey11020-1
7Stormin' LyonR. Gonzalez1168-1

* a-coupled: Jeffries Bay and Halo Cat
* Odds by Michael Hammersly
* Television: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. (Pacific), ESPNEWS