08/17/2006 11:00PM

Lost in the Fog's cancer spreads

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Tests performed Friday on Eclipse winner Lost in the Fog at the University of California at Davis revealed that the cancer in his spleen had spread throughout his system.

A procedure known as a laparoscopy, in which a miniaturized camera was run through the 4-year-old colt's abdomen, discovered another egg-sized tumor in tissue near his spleen and also an inoperable football-sized tumor underneath his spine. A sonogram earlier this week had revealed a cantaloupe-sized tumor on Lost in the Fog's spleen.

Dr. Don Smith, the colt's veterinarian said the condition is terminal.

According to Smith, cancer is rare in horses, with only 0.2 percent of all diagnosed deaths attributed to cancer. Smith said the disease is as common in young horses as old horses.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist said the colt would be vanned back to his stall at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday where he will be in familiar surroundings and with familiar faces.

While he said the "end is inevitable," he said the colt would be pampered whether he had "another day, week, or two weeks of quality life."

Gilchrist, who leaves for a horse sale in Florida Saturday morning, said he would return to be with the colt when he has to be put down and said, "We won't take it too far" to make sure the horse suffers no pain.

Smith said that the colt is seemingly not in pain and is responding well to the anti-inflammatory medication Banamine.

Smith could not give a timetable as to when the colt would have to be euthanized.

"It could be as soon as a week. It could be as long as a month," he said. The decision will be made, he said, when "lighter medications are no longer working."

Gilchrist said he saw the colt at Davis on Friday as he came out of the light anesthesia.

"His head was down," Gilchrist said. "I patted him, and he picked his head up. That had a lot to do with my thinking [to bring him back to Golden Gate Fields]. We'll have him a week or 10 days, then we'll have to say our good-byes.

"It's pretty somber here," Gilchrist added. "He's like a member of the family. It will be quiet here for a while, but we'll make it through."

Gilchrist said he had spoken with Harry Aleo, the colt's owner.

"He's a tough old guy," Gilchrist said, "but this is bringing him to his knees."

Lost in the Fog, 4, was taken to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC-Davis, the state's most advanced equine hospital, last Sunday when he showed signs of discomfort, originally thought to be a mild case of colic, and his temperature went up one degree.

Smith said most horses with those symptoms would receive mild medication and be walked around. But he said the colt's spleen felt a bit displaced so he was sent to UC-Davis, where the tumor was discovered.

Coincidentally, Gilchrist and Aleo had been planning to call a press conference this past Monday to announce the colt's retirement. Quarter crack problems were not healing quickly enough for the colt to run in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Lost in the Fog finished ninth in his final start on July 15, the Grade 2 Smile at Calder. Doctors told Gilchrist the tumor was certainly present and growing when the race was run.

A son of Lost Soldier out of the Dr. Carter mare Cloud Break, Lost in the Fog was purchased privately by Gilchrist for Aleo after failing to meet his reserve price at an Ocala sale of 2-year-olds in training in 2004.

Lost in the Fog gained national attention winning his first 10 career starts, earning triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures each time.

He set a Turf Paradise track record at 6 1/2 furlongs as a 2-year-old in his second start, on Dec. 26, 2004, winning the Arizona Juvenile by 14 3/4 lengths in 1:13.55.

As a 3-year-old, he set a track record at six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields on May 14, 2005, when he scored a 10-length victory in the Golden Bear Breeders' Cup Stakes in 1:07.32.

During his 10-race win streak, he crisscrossed the country six times from his northern California base, winning the Sunshine Millions Dash and later the Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream Park, the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct, the Grade 2 Riva Ridge at Belmont, the Grade 2 Carry Back at Calder, and the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

Despite finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup, he was voted the Eclipse Award as 2005's leading sprinter. He concludes his career with a record of 11 wins from 14 starts and earnings of $978,099.