Less than a week ago, trainer Greg Gilchrist said that it was "the bottom of the ninth" for his champion sprinter Lost in the Fog, diagnosed with terminal cancer. But at his Golden Gate Fields stable Thursday, the rally caps were out.
Returning to his barn after spending the previous five days in Florida for the Ocala Breeders' yearling auction, Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog is being treated in his stall with medications designed to reduce the size of two football sized tumors found in his spleen and beneath his spine along his back, as well as a third, smaller mass. The trainer said he is encouraged by the 4-year-old colt's responsiveness.
"This horse is not done yet," he said. "We are trying to shrink the tumors if that would be possible. If we can shrink them 50 percent, there's a chance we can remove them (surgically). It's a long shot but long shots happen all the time in this game. It's something to hang on to. We're not dead in the water yet."
It was almost exactly a year ago that an unbeaten Lost in the Fog romped to a 4 3/4-length win in the King's Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga for his ninth straight win to give Gilchrist and owner Harry Aleo their first grade I triumph. Lost in the Fog stretched his winning streak to 10 before losing for the first time in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.
Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog, who returned to the stable Aug. 20 after a week at the University of California at Davis' Large Animal Clinic, is "doing fine and holding his weight well."
He said the popular colt with the oddball blaze has been given walks outside his stall and has been happily enjoying the carrots, apples and other things sent to the barn by admirers. The get-well cards, e-mail wishes and flower bouquets have been overwhelming, Gilchrist said.
"I finally took all the flowers up to the (administration) office and gave them to all the girls there," he said.
Lost in the Fog, while being maintained on low doses of pain reliever, "is doing much better than we thought he would," Gilchrist said. "He's in good spirits."
The trainer had originally planned to allow the horse to live out his final days in familiar surroundings and to be cared for by those that know him best. Without giving into what he called "false hope," he now thinks it could be some time before a decision to euthanize the colt might be necessary.
"He still has quality life ahead of him," Gilchrist said.
In particular, he said, the horse has enjoyed being reunited with his favorite human, groom Pascual Garcia.
"Everybody is glad that he's back," Gilchrist said of the atmosphere at the stable. "Everybody realizes the situation. But I won't let anybody get down. I refuse to allow any negativity."
The colt, displaying his usual aggressiveness, certainly isn't feeling any.
"We were outside when he tried to take my arm off this morning," Gilchrist said.