Updated on 09/15/2011 2:03PM

Biszantz moving racing operation to the Bluegrass

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Gary Biszantz, chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, is making changes in his Cobra Farm racing and breeding operation. Biszantz said Thursday that trainer Mike Puype and Cobra's horses have relocated from Southern California to Kentucky, where Biszantz and his wife, Betty, are building a new home.

The changes involve more than taking out a Kentucky owner's license. Biszantz said he intends to increase Cobra's commercial presence by breeding more horses for auction.

"We're fortunate to own a majority of Old Trieste," he said, "and it makes sense to be more commercial when you're trying to support stallions. We have about 30 very high-quality broodmares, and we're breeding to some of the best stallions. In November, I will sell two Old Trieste weanlings that I absolutely loved, but I feel I have to sell them to support the stallion.

"To have a good racing stable today, you need to do a little of everything," he added. "You have to breed some, buy some, sell some, and race some. You need to have income from everywhere to keep the ship afloat, so to speak."

In the last two years, Biszantz has expanded the Lexington division of Cobra Farm, most recently adding about 145 acres from the former Whileaway Farm that stands adjacent to Biszantz's initial 90-acre property on Newtown Pike.

Biszantz said he and his wife expect to increase the time they spend in Lexington to about four or five months a year.

Biszantz was named chairman of TOBA, which is based in Kentucky, last year.

Keeneland nine-day average dips

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the day 10 session-leader at Keeneland's September yearling sale was a $77,000 Confide colt purchased by pinhooker Becky Thomas.

The colt, who is out of the unraced Pleasant Tap mare Tapped Twice, came from the consignment of Eaton Sales, agent.

On Wednesday, the 13-day auction's ninth session rang up a $110,000 top price for a Devil's Bag colt out of For Kicks (Topsider). Mike McCarty purchased the colt from Asmussen Horse Center.

Through its ninth day, the auction had sold 2,136 yearlings for $246,282,500, as compared with last year at that point, when 2,397 lots had brought $278,465,800. The nine-day average dropped slightly, from $116,173 last year to $115,301, and median remained level at $45,000.

Sheikh Mohammed gives $5 million

In other news from Keeneland, prominent yearling buyer Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum has donated $5 million to a disaster relief fund that Keeneland, its consignors, and buyers established last week to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

The donation from Sheikh Mohammed, who is the United Arab Emirates' minister of defense, brings the fund's total to $5.7 million. Sheikh Mohammed was in Kentucky for the September yearling sale on Sept. 11.

Keeneland will forward the donations to the American Red Cross.

New study of foal-loss syndrome

A team of researchers from Texas A & M University, Harvard Medical School, and the United States Department of Agriculture a preparing to launch new study of mare reproductive loss syndrome, the mysterious syndrome that caused at least 1,900 early and later-term abortions in central Kentucky mares this

spring.

The Grayson Jockey-Club Research Foundation, which is giving $112,800 to the study, provided some details of the project Thursday.

The research team, headed by Dr. Noah Cohen, an equine epidemiologist from Texas A & M, is slated to begin its investigations next week.

The study, which will focus on case records at Lexington's Disease Diagnostic Center and local clinics, aims to describe distribution of various clinical disorders associated with MRLS; determine pre-disposing factors for the syndrome; and develop plans to collect data in case of a recurrence of MRLS, and, if possible, prevent future epidemics of the syndrome.

The project tentatively proposes to collect its data by December and to complete preliminary analyses by February.

The new study follows a University of Kentucky survey of 133 Kentucky farms affected by the syndrome. That investigation identified risk factors for the problem, including the presence of cherry trees and a high population of caterpillars on farms that sustained high fetal losses, but did not address a specific cause for MRLS.