The the record-breaking rally in gold prices so far this year should have made making money in the precious metals space easy, especially for seasoned professional money managers. And it has, but not for all of them. One specialty precious metals mutual fund in particular, has lagged -- the $4.6 billion ( VGPMX) Vanguard Precious Metals & Mining fund. In the calendar year through Jan. 10, while returns for the rest of the mutual fund group rolled in, Vanguard's fund stayed pretty much flat, up a paltry 0.3%. That's in part due to the questionable strategy of mostly avoiding gold stocks, a strange thing for a specialty precious metals fund. Bad luck in Africa's platinum patch also had a dragging effect. The average precious metals fund gained 11.5% during the first seven trading days of 2008, with the pack's leaders bringing in even more, all fueled by the rising value of gold. Bullion prices started the year around $840 an ounce, but have since shot up to near $900 on continued worries about the strength of the U.S. economy. The $178 million ( PMPIX) ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector , which tracks a sector index, topped the list with a return of 14.8%, closely followed by the $1.1 billion ( ACGGX) American Century Global Gold with a gain of 13.6%. Vanguard's approach of focusing on the broad minerals sector rather than the gold group is perhaps at odds with what most mutual fund investors in the precious metals space want, and that's exposure to gold.