The Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) wasn’t the most prestigious race run in the U.S. on the Labor Day weekend in terms of graded standing, but with a $1 million purse, it certainly was the richest. In a close finish, the race went to Timber Reserve, who emerged as another notable from “second season” 3-year-olds by equaling the stakes record. The Pennsylvania Derby was only the sixth career start for Timber Reserve, who had broken his maiden in his third start at 2, and then ran fourth in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) on his only other juvenile outing. His sole start since then had been a front-running win in an allowance over a mile at Belmont Park on July 21, so he may well have room for continued improvement.
Timber Reserve is a member of the second crop sired by the Deputy Minister horse, Forest Camp. A $675,000 yearling, Forest Camp campaigned in the colors of Aaron and Marie Jones. At 2 he broke his maiden first out, and then followed up with a 5 1/2 lengths victory in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) over a field that included subsequent grade I winners Dixie Union, Captain Steve, and Commendable. Beaten half a length by Dixie Union in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II), Forest Camp finished off the board as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), which was taken by the Norfolk Stakes’ third-place finisher, Anees. Forest Camp kicked off his 3-year-old campaign in the six-furlong San Miguel Stakes (gr. III) and went down by a nose to Swept Overboard. Sidelined for eight months, Forest Camp returned to take the Pirate’s Bounty Handicap over six furlongs at Del Mar in 1:08.3, but was unplaced in his only other start. Away from the races for another 11 months, Forest Camp ran four more times at 4, his only win coming in a 5 1/2-furlong turf event, in which he finished second and was moved to first due to a disqualification.
Retired to Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., Forest Camp fitted the mold of the speedy horses that had initially made Deputy Minister’s name as a sire – the grade I-winning 2-year-old and high-class sprinter Salt Lake; the precocious Silver Deputy; and the miler French Deputy, who was bred on the same cross as Forest Camp – rather than the middle-distance runners that came along later, notably Awesome Again , Touch Gold, and Deputy Commander.
Forest Camp’s first crop reached the races in 2005, and he did very much what his supporters had hoped, getting 17 juvenile winners, a string of which scored first time out. They included Hello Liberty, who would later win at 3 the Nassau County Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) winner and take second in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I); Your Tent or Mine, winner at 3 of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) and runner-up in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I); the champion Puerto Rican 2-year-old filly, Vivaldi Girl; and Summer Girlfriend, who took the Star Shoot Stakes in Canada at 3. Prior to Timber Reserve’s victory, Forest Camp’s second crop had been rather quieter; he did have 15 2-year-old winners, but only the Winnipeg Futurity scorer, First Cavalry, had captured a black-type race. Forest Camp’s third crop is headed by New York City Girl, winner of the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth in July.
Forest Camp made only three of his 11 starts at distances beyond six furlongs, but Timber Reserve clearly found the step up to nine furlongs no problem. Much of the credit for Timber Reserve’s middle-distance ability would have to be attributed to the distaff side of the pedigree. His dam, Fountain Square, scored three of her five wins over 8 1/2 furlongs, and was three times stakes-placed at a mile, and she was a daughter of the 1986 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, Danzig Connection.
Fountain Square was a half-sister to Highland Gold, a Slew o’ Gold son who recorded his most important victory in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III). Timber Reserve’s granddam, Whitesburg Expess, was stakes-placed and was a half-sister to listed winner Cabrini Express, but one will search in vain for graded stakes winners under Timber Reserve’s third, fourth, or fifth dams. The sixth dam, however, is Staretta, a stakes winning half-sister to champion Gamely. Granddam of Matriarch Invitational Stakes (gr. I) heroine Asteroid Field, Staretta was out of Gambetta, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Moccasin, champion 2-year-old Ridan, and the great taproot mare, Thong.
Timber Reserve’s pedigree represents a cross of a Northern Dancer line sire over a Northern Dancer line dam, and a variation of this particular version – a son of Deputy Minister over a mare by Danzig Connection – also came up with the Strate Sunshine Stakes winner, Charming View. Forest Camp is particularly interesting with Danzig Connection as their genetic backgrounds are rather similar. In addition to both being by Northern Dancer line stallions, Forest Camp is out of a mare bred on a Princequillo/Sir Gaylord cross, where Danzig Connection is out of a mare bred on a Sir Gaylord/Princequillo cross. To complete the picture, the Sir Gaylord sources, Drone (in Timber Reserve) and Sir Ivor (in Danzig Connection) have a very similar genetic background, their dams each descending from Pharamond and Mahmoud.