Friday morning as Lost in the Fog galloped around the Belmont Park track, owner Harry Aleo leaned over the rail near the gap, taking in the sights and his horse as he attacked the ground with enthusiasm. Standing next to Aleo soaking it all in was Susan Seper, the breeder of the undefeated 3-year-old colt and most exciting prospect in this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
"Look at him," she said of the morning line favorite for the TVG Sprint (gr. I). "He looks great. I take out his baby pictures all the time and he looked great then. You couldn't ask for a better horse. He's healthy, he's never sick. He's got a tremendous mind. He's just amazing."
Her goal along was to "just breed a good, sound individual," she said. "Just a good, useful racehorse." She's done that ... and then some.
Seper, 53, established Wildwood Farm near Ocala, Fla. in 1995 and purchased Cloud Break, the dam of Lost in the Fog, privately as an unraced 4-year-old in 1996. She wound up selling the farm in 2003, a year after Lost in the Fog was foaled in Florida in February of 2002. She now lives on mini farm, a four-acre layout near Ocala. She sold Cloud Break privately in January to Charles Deters, who owns Ben-D Farm near Walton, Ky.
"I just have a few horses left for some clients and one mare," she said outside Barn 11 on the backside at Belmont. "I have a 2-year-old Lost Soldier
filly. I've got a couple of yearlings to break."
Not having the farm has allowed her to follow Lost in the Fog's tear through the 2005 racing season as the son of Lost Soldier has rattled off 10 wins to start his career. Her connection to Aleo began after the colt's first start last November at Golden Gate Field.
"I called to congratulate him after his first win," Seper said. "I met him in person in January when they brought him down for the Sunshine Millions. I call (trainer) Greg (Gilchrist) every now and then, but he's always so busy so I try not to bother him. I've called Mr. Aleo a couple of times at his office."
In Lost in the Fog's third career start, he won the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream Park in South Florida Jan. 29. He's made two other starts in Florida, a 4 ¾-length win in the Swale Stakes (gr. II) March 5 at Gulfstream, and a 7 ¼-length romp in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. II) during the Summit of Speed at Calder July 10.
"I was here (Belmont Park) for the Riva Ridge," she said of Lost in the Fog's grade II seven-furlong victory on the Belmont Stakes undercard. "I was at the King's Bishop (at Saratoga) and I've seen all his races in Florida.
"I didn't get nervous until I stood in front of his stall yesterday," she said. "When I walked in the morning, I walked in front of his stall and stood in front of him and I got real nervous. It's the excitement of it all. It's finally soaked in. I've had people say 'Don't you realize what it is? You've bred this big horse.' It just didn't hit me until now."
The only downside to having a bred a top horse for the Breeders' Cup is that Seper won't be eligible for any of the breeders' nomination money since Lost in the Fog was not nominated as a foal. Seper pointed out that the nomination deadline, Oct. 15 of a foal's weanling year, comes at an inopportune time for a small breeder like herself, especially when stud fees are usually due that September.
Nonetheless, Lost in the Fog has given her the ride of a lifetime.
"It's been a great, great year," she said. "It's probably been the best year of my life."