06/21/2008 11:00PM

Harry Aleo dies; owned Lost in the Fog

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ALBANY, Calif. - Harry Aleo, owner of the 2005 Eclipse Award sprinter Lost in the Fog, died Saturday at his home in his native San Francisco, his trainer Greg Gilchrist confirmed Sunday morning. Aleo, 88, had been suffering from cancer.

Aleo, who had worked in real estate, owned horses for 29 years and enjoyed his greatest success with Lost in the Fog, who won his first 10 starts before finishing seventh in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Lost in the Fog was suffering from cancer when he was euthanized in 2006. He won 11 of 14 starts and earned $978,099. Among Aleo's other stars were Victorina, Smokey Stover, Frisco Star, Vicarino and Wild Promises. He also owned the stakes winners Minutes Away and Beyond Brilliant. All were trained by Gilchrist.

Aleo entered the game in 1977 when Gilchrist bought Sunny Shy for him. The horse made two starts for and was claimed after winning a maiden claiming race at Golden Gate Fields.

Gilchrist said he will feel Aleo's loss on much more than a professional level.

“I worked a couple of his horses today, and for the first time in 29 years, I didn't talk to Harry about them,” Gilchrist said Sunday. “Just talk about his loyalty. He stayed with me through bad times and good. We had our differences, but we walked away and then went back to work.

“It's left a big hole in my stomach. He was a big brother to me, a father to me.”

Aleo turned down multimillion-dollar offers for Lost in the Fog, joking that he didn't need to make more money to “let my kids blow it.”

Aleo said: “I waited all my life for a horse like this. Why should I sell him? I'd only try to get another just like him.”

Aleo's death will create a hole not only for Gilchrist but also for horse racing in Northern California, where Aleo's horses were based. Although he could have raced Lost in the Fog in richer spots, he brought the horse back home to win the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap in 2005 and open his 2006 season in the Golden Gate Sprint.

“Harry never wanted to leave Northern California with horses,” Gilchrist said. “He never did unless he had to. He wanted to run at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. When he received the Eclipse, he thanked Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. That's one of his loyalties.”

Aleo was an outstanding baseball prospect whose career was cut short due to an arm injury after he signed with the Dodgers in 1940. He later served in the U.S. Army in Europe under Gen. George Patton and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Aleo posted pictures of Republican icons in his Twin Peaks Properties storefront window in liberal San Francisco. But he also made sure elderly renters in his apartment buildings were able to live comfortably despite being on fixed incomes.

Aleo died with his longtime companion, Deannie Bartlett, at his side. Aleo also is survived by daughters Carol, Terri, and Valerie, and three grandchildren. Services are pending.