Champion sprinter Lost in the Fog has an inoperable tumor in addition to the large one found this week on his spleen and may have no more than two weeks to live, trainer Greg Gilchrist said Aug. 18.
The popular colt, owned by Harry Aleo, has been at the University of California at Davis' Large Animal Clinic since Sunday when he was sent there with what was believed to be a slight case of colic. A sonogram discovered that his spleen was covered by a mass the size of a football.
"We went in and did a little camera search looking for more cancer outside the spleen (Friday)," Gilchrist told TVG. "He has two or three more tumors in there in bad places. They're inoperable. I'm sorry to say it's just the bottom of the ninth for Lost in the Fog.
"There are no choices as far as him going on. His life is pretty much over. The horse is not in excruciating pain. He's not writhing or having a terrible time. But, the best you can put it is he's just uncomfortable. Not all of the time, but some of the time he seems to have these little bouts."
In a teleconference shortly after Gilchrist's remarks, Dr. Don Smith, Lost in the Fog's longtime veterinarian, said that two additional tumors were discovered. The first, the size of an egg, was located in the membrane that suspends the spleen. The second, which Smith said was as large as the growth found originally on the spleen, is beneath Lost in the Fog's spine along his back "very intimately against the body wall. It could not be removed surgically.
"We had hoped we weren't going to see anything inside there except for what was in the spleen," Smith said. "But you could see the mass in front of you and it was very high right along the backbone. As soon as the scope went in there, you saw it and everyone knew what the implications were."
Smith said the UCD team estimated that the tumors had been developing for a minimum of four months and perhaps as for as long as a year. The vet said Lost in the Fog has responded well to mild pain medication and could conceivably live for as long as a month.
"We're keeping him on a minimal level of pain killer," Smith said. "If that's not working then we'll have to reach a decision."
Smith said that cancer is relatively rare in horses and accounts for 0.2% of all equine deaths.
Gilchrist said he would retrieve Lost in the Fog, a 4-year-old Florida-bred colt by Lost Soldier
, from the clinic Saturday and return him to his stable at Golden Gate Fields.
"We'll keep him in the stall for a week or 10 days," the trainer said. "This would be the best thing to do, get him back with his groom. I just couldn't leave him up there (at Davis) to be euthanized and thrown in the bone yard."
He said the horse's remains would be cremated and sent back to Southern Chase Farm in Ocala, Fla., where Lost in the Fog was raised, to be buried there.
Of Aleo, Lost in the Fog's 86-year-old owner, Gilchrist said, "Harry's a tough guy. He's been through a lot. But with an animal, it's sometimes tougher than with humans. I gotta tell you. I've got more respect for this horse than I have for 75% of the people I deal with."
Lost in the Fog captured the imagination of race fans across North America last year when he made seven cross-country trips and won eight stakes, including the King's Bishop (gr. I). Lost in the Fog won 10 races in a row to begin his career and 11 of 14 starts while earning $978,099.
Doctors told Gilchrist that Lost in the Fog has had the cancer for months and it probably affected all of his races this year, when he won just once in three starts.
"It definitely wasn't helping him," the trainer said. "What a warrior; I've never had a horse that comes close to this one."
Lost in the Fog opened the 2006 season with a second-place finish in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint, then won the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on June 3. In his final start, he ran ninth in the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) on July 15 at Calder.
Given the circumstances, Gilchrist said it would not be proper to try to extend Lost in the Fog's life beyond the horse's comfort level or subject him to chemotherapy or extensive surgery.
"We're fine with a week, 10 days, maybe two weeks," he said. "But you get beyond that, his quality of life wouldn't be good. This way we'll let the people who have always been around him take care of him. We'll bring him home and make him as happy as we can for awhile."