Juvenile champ, Preakness winner Timber Country dead at 24
Timber Country, the 1994 champion juvenile colt who returned the following year to capture the Preakness (G1) in what proved to be his final start, died this week in Japan at the age of 24. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported the death Wednesday.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas for owners Overbrook Farm, Gainesway Stable, and Bob & Beverly Lewis, Timber Country won the juvenile title with victories in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs, Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park, and Balboa (G3) at Del Mar. In two other stakes appearances at two, Timber Country finished third in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and sixth in the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill.
Timber Country opened his three-year-old campaign finishing third in the San Rafael (G2), second in the San Felipe (G2), and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Nonetheless, he was part of an entry with the champion filly Serena's Song that started as the 3-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Though Serena's Song finished up the track, Timber Country turned in a strong, late rally from 13th to finish third behind Thunder Gulch, another Lukas trainee. Two weeks later in the Preakness, Timber Country was favored at odds of 19-10 over Thunder Gulch and spoiled that rival's Triple Crown bid with a half-length victory over Oliver's Twist.
Timber Country proved to be only one of two juvenile colt champions between 1979 and 2007 to win a classic race. The other was 1988 champion Easy Goer, who won the Belmont S. (G1) at three.
A virus knocked Timber Country out of the Belmont, eventually won by Thunder Gulch, and a tendon injury forced the colt's retirement soon after. His career concluded with a mark of 12-5-1-4, $1,560,400.
A son of Woodman and Broodmare of the Year Fall Aspen, by Pretense, Timber Country was a half-brother to Irish highweight Bianconi, Group 1 winners Fort Wood and Hamas, Grade 1-winning producer Northern Aspen, and Group 2 scorer Elle Seule. Group 2-winning mare Colorado Dancer, the dam of multiple Group 1 star Dubai Millennium, was another half-sibling.
Timber Country's most noted offspring were Japanese champion Admire Don; Eremein, a multiple Group 1 winner in Australia; and Grade 1 winner Balletto, who twice placed in Breeders' Cup competition.
(Adam Coglianese Photography)