Updated on 07/10/2011 10:46AM

Carl Lizza, New York owner-breeder, dies

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Carl Lizza, a prominent owner and breeder on the New York Racing Association circuit for more than three decades, died early Friday morning in his sleep at his New Jersey home. He was 73.

Lizza had suffered from diabetes for more than 30 years and a few years ago had his left leg amputated. He also underwent a hernia operation on Thursday.

Lizza, who races under the name Flying Zee Stable, was the leading owner at the current Belmont Park spring/summer meet with 13 winners from 76 starters. He is the leading owner for the year on this circuit with 31 wins from 146 starters. His best horse in training is Street Game, the New York-bred 3-year-old who won the Grade 3 Hill Prince here on June 18. Street Game, a son of Thunder Achiever, who won the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap for Lizza in 1996, was being pointed to next Saturday’s $600,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

Lizza was the leading owner in terms of wins on the NYRA circuit in 2004 with 40 and in 2005 with 45.

Thirty years ago, in 1981, Lizza campaigned Wayward Lass, who won the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks and who earned the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading 3-year-old filly. That same year, Lizza campaigned Noble Nashua, who won the Swaps, Marlboro Cup, Dwyer, Jerome and Whirlaway. In 1983, Lizza sold Wayward Lass in foal to Noble Noshua at auction for $2.3 million.

Other stakes winners owned by Lizza include Cosmonaut, Comacina, I Lost My Choo, Golden Commander, Screen King, Key Contender, Ball Four, and Good Mood.

Lizza owned horses since 1976 when he purchased the horse Bag of Beans, who won a maiden claiming race at Aqueduct in March.

In recent years, Lizza revamped his breeding program, opting to weed out some of his lesser mares and send some of his better ones to Kentucky-based stallions. But he would bring those mares back to foal in New York, to qualify as New York-breds.

In 1989, Lizza, in partnership with Joseph Bartone, purchased Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y., which stands several stallions, including Congaree, Cosmonaut and Key Contender.

“The great thing about him as an owner was if something went wrong, he didn’t like it, but he got over it,” Phil Serpe, one of several trainers Lizza employed, said Friday morning before learning of Lizza’s death. “He demanded results, but on the other hand he gave you great opportunity.”

Lizza also used trainer Carlos Martin, Frank Martin, Patrick Biancone, Jimmy Jerkens and Pat Kelly.

Lizza was the owner of Landmark Builders, a construction company based in Charleston, S.C. Lizza also owned construction companies in New York and New Jersey.

Lizza is survived by his wife Viane.

Visitation will take place Monday and Tuesday at 2-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. both days at Vernon C. Wagner Funeral Home 125. W. Old Country Road, Hicksville, NY.

A funeral service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Dominic Church, 93 Anstise St., Oyster Bay, N.Y. Interment will follow at Holy Rood Cemetery, Old Country Rd. in Westbury, N.Y.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the following charities: American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Association, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, Dante Foundation, Carl Lizza Jr. Scholarship Fund at 385 West John Str. Hicksville, NY 11801.