Lost in the Fog Owner Harry Aleo Dies

Lost in the Fog Owner Harry Aleo Dies
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Harry Aleo
Harry J. Aleo, the crusty Northern California Thoroughbred owner who burst into national prominence with 2005 champion sprinter Lost in the Fog, died at his San Francisco home on the afternoon of June 21. He was 88.

His longtime companion, Deannie Bartlett, was at his side.

Greg Gilchrist, Aleo's trainer of nearly 30 years, said the cause was cancer. The Lost in the Fog Stakes for 2-year-olds, inaugurated in 2007, concludes the current spring meet at Golden Gate Fields June 22.

"Ours was more than a relationship between a client and an owner," Gilchrist said from Golden Gate Fields June 22. "He was more like a combination of a brother and a father to me. Harry, to me, represented those traditional values. He stood for everything I believe in. They just don't make them like Harry anymore.

"It's going to be different without him," the trainer added. "I worked a couple of Harry's horses this morning and I was just thinking that ordinarily I'd be talking to him, filling him in about their works and plotting our plans for them, talking about this race or that one. It won't be the same."

The conservative Aleo was looking for a quality horse that could “take me back East to run” and was the underbidder when Lost in the Fog went through the Ocala Breeders' 2-year-old sale in March 2004. When the son of Lost Soldier did not meet his reserve, Aleo bought him privately a few weeks later for $140,000, a huge sum for him to pay for a horse.

Lost in the Fog won his first 10 career starts at ages 2 and 3. The horse, considered Northern California's biggest equine attraction since Seabiscuit, and his sometimes blunt owner became popular nationally for their frequent cross-country trips.

Aleo refused to sell Lost in the Fog in spite of some overwhelming offers.

"What the hell would I do that for?” he told a reporter gruffly. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for a horse like that.”

Lost in the Fog lost for the first time in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), but won an Eclipse as champion sprinter anyway and came back the following year to win the Aristides Breeders’ Cup (gr. III).

"I guess the law of averages just caught up or something," said Aleo at the time. "After buying hundreds of them, one went 'boom.' I put out more money and we got lucky. You've got to get lucky; you know that."

Later that summer, however, Lost in the Fog was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and was euthanized on Sept. 17, 2006 after treatment failed to stop the spread of the disease. Two weeks later Golden Gate Fields, his home base, had a day-long celebration of the colt’s life. In June 2007, the track inaugurated the stakes race for 2-year-olds in Fog's honor.

Born Dec. 7, 1919, in Noe Valley, Calif., Aleo made his fortune as the owner of Twin Peaks Properties, a real estate and insurance brokerage firm that he founded more than 60 year ago. He never retired. 

Aleo was a minor-league pitcher and third baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers organization for a time but an elbow injury cut short his career and he was drafted by the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He eventually fought with the 97th Infantry in several campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, and was in active service for three years.

"I missed D-Day, thank God, or I'd have been dead," Aleo told The Blood-Horse in a 2005 interview. "But we went through France and Germany, the Battle of the Bulge, all that crap. I got home, so I was lucky."

A huge baseball fan, his horses carry the orange and black colors of the San Francisco Giants and many of his horses were named after landmarks and images of the city.

Among his other stakes winners are Vicarino, Smokey Stover, Victorina, Beyond Brilliant, Taraval, Frisco Belle and Minutes Away, the 1985 Northern California horse of the year. His Wild Promises won the Yerba Buena Stakes at Golden Gate on June 8. Gilchrist said he has eight or nine of Aleo's horses currently in training.

"A son-in-law at the time showed me an article titled, "How to Make Money When Your Horse Loses." It was all about deducting vet bills and depreciation and all that," said Aleo in The Blood-Horse article. "It really made an impression on me, and even though I didn't have much money -- this was 1979 -- I decided to buy a horse."

In addition to Ms. Bartlett, Aleo is survived by daughters Carol, Terri and Valerie, and three grandchildren.  Services are pending.

Most Popular Stories