Something was not right, Lost in the Fog was too good to run like that. He had just finished ninth in the Grade 2 Smile Handicap at Calder Race Course. For just about any other horse, it would have been chalked up as simply a bad race, but he was not like other horses. Something was wrong. Lost in the Fog was not a horse who you could lump into a conversation with any other horse labeled as fast, nor was he a horse who occasionally ran the big race dazzling the crowd. He was much more than that. Lost in the Fog was faster than fast, he dazzled not on occasion, but every single race. He would simply run away from his competition. As the races got tougher, it made no matter, Lost in the Fog was simply too good. That’s what made the inconsistency of his final four races so perplexing. Something was not right, and to the horror of racing fans everywhere we soon find out the worst possible news.
Lost in the Fog was owned by a San Francisco octogenarian named Harry Aleo. Part of the fun in watching this horse run was Aleo’s joy in his horse’s accomplishments. Aleo had been in racing for years, but never had a big horse, until this one finally came along. The once-in-a-lifetime horse was Lost in the Fog and it changed the life of Aleo and trainer Greg Gilchrist. After his very first race, the three set out barnstorming the nation. Lost in the Fog would log more cross county miles than a normal stable full of horses normally accrue. You could tell that the crusty, conservative owner was having the time of his life. He finally had his big horse and he loved him. Aleo and Gilchrist resisted temptations to stretch their horse out for Kentucky Derby dreams, believing their horse was better off sprinting. They took care of him and Lost in the Fog returned the favor.
Aleo was hounded by prodigious financial offers for the colt, and by reporters who wanted to know if he would sell to one of the big outfits and cash in on the respect the world had for his horse. To Aleo this was silly, he had been waiting all of his life for a horse like this. For this man, it was not about money, it was not a business, he was thrilled to be around a horse of this quality and to watch him run. If only more horse owners could share this attitude.
Aleo and Gilchrist and regular rider, Russell Baze were not the only ones thrilled by Lost in the Fog. His modest beginnings, his traveling show, and his awesome ability, made him an easy horse for people to fall in love with. After a startling win in his first race, a maiden at Golden Gate Fields, Lost in the Fog would win nine consecutive stakes. Amazingly, he would go from San Francisco to Arizona to Florida to New York and back to San Francisco for his first five stakes. He was a horse for the people. From there he would go to New York to Florida to Saratoga and back again to San Francisco. It was an incredible display of consistent brilliance, no matter the travel. The major stakes were racked up one after the other, and the legend of Lost in the Fog grew.
Going into the Breeders’ Cup, it was pretty clear that Lost in the Fog would be a champion win, lose, or draw. He was beaten that day, but it would do little to tarnish his image or the incredible record that he compiled in less than one year’s time. I first knew of him after his second career start, a minor stake which he won by a pole in an astounding 1:13 2/5 for 6 ½ furlongs at Turf Paradise. I remember thinking 2-year-olds do not run that fast. Now ten months later he was sent off an overwhelming favorite of 7-10 against the top older sprinters in the nation. He was banged around at the start and battled through suicidal fractions. Eventually he succumbed to the early rigors of the race and his undefeated streak was over. He returned at four to win one of three races, but, as we soon learned, it was not the competition that got him, it was the disease.
Lost in the Fog, the 2005 Eclipse Award Sprinter, was put to rest on September 17, 2006 only a few weeks after doctors found the cancerous tumor in his spleen. The hero of Northern Californian racing, with the crooked blaze, began his career with 10 consecutive wins. Each and every one were tour de forces of blazing speed and ability. His first career defeat did not come until the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park, and now less than a year later he was gone, taken from the world by a hideous disease. He may have been already suffering the effects of his illness at the previous year's Breeders' Cup, as doctors believe the tumors may have been growing for up to a year. Sometimes bad things happen to good horses, but this one was especially heartbreaking. Lost in the Fog was better than good, he was great. I remember you Lost in the Fog.