06/07/2002 12:00AM

Richly Blended may run again

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Richly Blended, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham and Withers stakes last year before retiring with an injury, may return to training.

The colt, a 3-year-old by Rizzi, was to have gone to stud after surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right front cannon bone. He has recuperated well from surgery, according to owner Raymond Dweck's bloodstock manager Buzz Chace, but Dweck has not been able to come to terms with a buyer who would send the colt to stud.

Chace said that Richly Blended, who is jogging now at Dweck's Jones Anderson Farm in Colts Neck, N.J., could return to trainer Ben Perkins Jr.'s barn.

"He's still for sale," Chace said, "but he's doing well. He's recovered from surgery and he's sound. We're just toying with the idea of putting him back in training. Nothing is definite yet, but we'll make a decision soon."

Bred in Florida by Mockingbird Farm, Richly Blended is out of the Valid Appeal mare Valid Blend. Unraced until age 3, he won his first two races by a total of more than 22 lengths before taking the Gotham, his third start, by 5 1/4. After winning the Withers, he finished 10th in Point Given's Preakness in his last start. He retired when veterinarians detected the stress fracture after a workout at Saratoga, where he was prepping for the King's Bishop.

Richly Blended's record stands at 6-4-0-1, and he has $323,280 in earnings.

Believe It dies in Louisiana

Believe It, one of Louisiana's top stallions, died Wednesday of old age. He was 27.

Believe It died at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, La., where he was standing for an advertised fee of $3,000. This was the In Reality stallion's first year at Clear Creek; he stood the 2001 season at Cloverleaf Farms II in Reddick, Fla.

Believe It is the sire of millionaire Grade 1 winner Al Mamoon, 1987 Kentucky Oaks winner Buryyourbelief, Grade 1 winners Garthorn and Believe the Queen, and Panamanian champion Creemelo. From 21 crops to race, he has sired more than 400 winners and has total progeny earnings of more than $22 million.

Campaigned by Alice duPont Mills's Hickory Tree Farm, Believe It won the Heritage and Remsen stakes, both Grade 2, at 2. The following year, 1978, he won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, then finished third behind Affirmed and Alydar in the Preakness and Belmont. He retired with a career record of 17-6-6-2 and $350,483 in earnings.

Believe It stood as the property of R Bar S Thoroughbreds.

Still searching for cause

The University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture continues to monitor 12 horse farms and one hay farm for problems and risk factors related to mare reproductive loss syndrome, the mysterious illness that caused several thousand late- and early-term abortions in central Kentucky broodmares last year.

Testing soil and grass samples for fungal toxins, soil microbes, clover-related cyanide, and other potential culprits for the disease, researchers have found little so far to point to a cause. But some samples have revealed small amounts of several fungal toxins that appear to correlate to MRLS symptoms.

MRLS has caused abortions this year, too, though UK notes that the losses are far less than those of last year's outbreak. Researchers have yet to identify the disease's cause.

Through May 28, the last summary of abortion numbers reported by the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington, breeders had submitted 794 aborted equine fetuses to the LDDC for examination, down from 988 fetuses at this time last year. According to the LDDC, pathologists had attributed 160 of this year's abortions to MRLS.

Eastern tent caterpillars, identified as one of the risk factors for MRLS, are no longer widely dispersed in pastures, prompting farm managers to allow pregnant mares more time in their fields.

But, as a June 6 UK advisory noted, "some fields that have caused problems in 2002 have the ability to induce MRLS symptoms even after the caterpillars are gone." As a result, many farm managers are turning their mares out in fields where MRLS symptoms haven't occurred this year.