Lost in the Fog, champion sprinter of 2005, will begin chemotherapy treatments for his cancer at the University of California at Davis next week, trainer Greg Gilchrist said Sept. 1. The process could last for as long as five months.
Gilchrist, during a brief teleconference from Golden Gate Fields, said the hope is that chemotherapy can put the 4-year-old colt's lymphoma into remission and give the horse as much as two years of quality life.
"It would have to be a miracle for Lost in the Fog to be cured," Gilchrist said. "This is something that puts it into remission and allows him to go on. As far as a cure, I think we're pretty much up against it."
Gilchrist, along with owner Harry Aleo, were disappointed to learn earlier in the day that Lost in the Fog's tumors had not shrunk in size since the horse began treatment with injections of the corticosteroid Dexamethasone 10 days ago.
"Doctors came down from the university Thursday to do a scan," he said. "Nothing had changed. Nothing had gotten any smaller. Nothing had gotten any larger."
Lost in the Fog was diagnosed with a terminal cancer two weeks ago. Gilchrist assumed they would have to put down the horse who won the 2005 Eclipse Award as the nation's leading sprinter after winning the first 10 races of his career.
Aleo and Gilchrist made the decision on chemotherapy on the advice of Dr. Gary Magdesian, UCD's chief of equine medicine. He told them that it was unlikely that Lost in the Fog would derive any benefit from further use of the steroid, which if effective enough on Lost in the Fog's football-sized tumors, could have made surgery a possibility.
"We've come to another cross in the road. They feel that we were doing isn't really helping that much," Gilchrist said. "He could have two, three, four months (to live) with what we are doing right now. There are always exceptions, of course, when you are dealing with something like this. But with chemotherapy it could be as much as two years."
The chemotherapy at UC Davis would consist of up to six sessions, if they prove successful, three weeks apart. The horse will go to the university for the treatments and then return to the barn.
Because cancer in horses is considered rare, Gilchrist said, the treatment "is pretty experimental." He said that, if midway through the process it is determined that chemotherapy isn't helping, they would stop.
"Horses don't suffer the same side effects (from chemotherapy) that people do," he said. "With horses, they pretty much get over it in a day and move on."
In the meantime, Lost in the Fog "is in very good spirits and doing very well," Gilchrist said, although he has lost a little weight because they haven't been feeding him as much as they did when he was in training. "His quality of life is good right now. If you just walked up to him, you wouldn't know there was anything wrong with him. I don't think he's being affected by anything going on around him or within him."
Gilchrist said he takes Lost in the Fog out of his stall every morning for about 30 minutes to graze, and for about 30 minutes in the evening when he has time. They often walk to a spot where the popular colt with the oddball blaze can scan the track.
"It does seem to pick his head up when he gets to do that," the trainer said.