One of Maryland's great thoroughbred stables is about to disperse its racing stock.
Israel Cohen, the Giant Food chairman and longtime owner/breeder who built his own deluxe barn to house his horses at Laurel Park, will be selling 25 racehorses in a special sales event at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auction at the Timonium Fairgrounds on Dec. 4.
Cohen, 82, is suffering from a malignant bone marrow disorder that forced him to step down from his position at Giant in July.
His declining health, a Fasig-Tipton sales representative said, is the reason he wants to sell his horses by the end of the year.
Among the horses who will be offered at the Timonium auction are a stakes class 2-year-old colt, Sunny A.; an allowance colt, Cappuccio; an older sprinter, Forest Wildcat; three offspring of Seattle Slew -- Classified Facts, North To Seattle and Seattle Forest -- and a pair of 2-year-olds sired by Storm Cat -- He's A Tough Cat and Tom's Annie.
Many of these horses were the cream of the crop when Cohen purchased them at high-priced Florida and Kentucky auctions.
Paget Hirsch of Fasig-Tipton said catalogs of the sales horses should be available at Laurel this weekend.
The auction of the Cohen thoroughbreds will take place at the conclusion of the company's regular mixed sale of 220 head that will begin at 11 a.m.
Mike O'Farrell, owner of Ocala Stud Farm in Ocala, Fla., is handling the arrangements for the dispersal, but was at the Kentucky bloodstock auctions yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Cohen stands two stallions, Montbrook and Mighty Appealing, at the Ocala facility and boards a number of broodmares and young horses there, as well. Details about the possible sale of those horses could not be confirmed yesterday.
Not included in the Dec. 4 dispersal is Cohen's multiple stakes-winning mare, Mixed Appeal, who earned over $600,000, including a victory in the 1994 Grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel.
The 7-year-old mare has been retired and might be offered for sale at a later date.
"It's always sad to see someone who has done so much for the game get out," said Laurel/Pimlico track operator Joe De Francis.
"Given Izzy's health problems, it's understandable. The warmth and charm of his personality combined with his great business acumen made him a tremendous asset to racing."
De Francis said he doesn't know what will happen to Cohen's racing barn, built at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Cohen's major Maryland victories, achieved by his longtime trainer, Dean Gaudet, came with Mighty Appealing, winner of the 1984 Laurel Futurity; Montbrook, who won the 1993 De Francis Dash; and Mixed Appeal.