by Alan Porter
The Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) wasn’t the most prestigious race run in the U.S. over 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 “second season” 3-year-old 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) in his only other juvenile outing. His sole start since then had been a front-running win in an allowance/optional claiming over a mile at Belmont Park 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 five-length victory over a field that included subsequent grade I winners Dixie Union, Captain Steve, and Commendable in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II). Beaten a half-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, 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 five-and-a-half-furlong turf event, which he took on a disqualification.
Retired to Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky., Forest Camp fit 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 who 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 went on to win the Nassau County Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and placed in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at 3; Your Tent or Mine, winner of 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. Before Timber Reserve’s victory, Forest Camp’s second crop had been 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 eight-and-a-half furlongs and was three times stakes-placed at a mile. She was a daughter of the 1986 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, Danzig Connection.
Fountain Square was 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 Express, 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, while 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 both descending from Pharamond and Mahmoud.