Timber Reserve missed three months of training with a foot injury suffered last September after a game victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) and now he’s back, seeking to emerge as a top 4-year-old in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 6 at Gulfstream Park. The John Kimmel trainee will have to face the defending Chatain, who won the 2007 edition of the one mile event and comes into the race off consecutive victories.
The Hal’s Hope has drawn a field of 13 starters led by Chatain, who carries the high weight of 118. Timber Reserve has been assigned just one pound less, sharing 117 with the Nick Zito-trained Commentator.
Owned by Circle E Racing, Caesar Kimmel and Philip Solondz, Timber Reserve started just twice in 2007 and won both efforts, taking the Pennsylvania Derby off an allowance optional claiming victory. Since returning to the track in late November, the Kentucky-bred Forest Campcolt has been training strongly and last registered a Dec. 27 work at Gulfstream, when he went five furlongs in :59.40.
“The thrill of the Pennsylvania Derby held on for us for a while,” said Loretta Lusteg, Kimmel’s assistant. “It was a disappointment not to be able to race in the Breeders’ Cup, but we’re hoping he runs good and shows off this year.”
Timber Reserve was fourth in the 2006 Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct behind emerging star Nobiz Like Shobiz, but missed most of the next season after ankle surgery.
Lusteg said the goal beyond the Hal’s Hope for Timber Reserve is the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), to be run at Gulfstream on Feb. 2.
Chatain, trained by Angel Penna Jr., kicked off his 2007 campaign with a victory in last year’s edition of the Hal’s Hope. Next, he was a game fourth to Horse of the Year Invasor in the Donn Handicap (gr. I), losing by just 2 1/2 lengths behind Hesanoldsalt and A.P. Arrow. This year, the 5-year-old son of Forest Wildcat will enter the Hal’s Hope well-rested off a Nov. 3 victory in the six furlong William Livingston Stakes at the Meadowlands. Prior to that win, he took a six furlong allowance optional claimer at Saratoga by two lengths for the late Martha Farish Gerry’s Lazy F Ranch.
The Zito-trained Commentator's last start was a disappointing seventh in the Oct. 27 TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. The 7-year-old Distorted Humor gelding earned just one win for owner Tracy Farmer this year in his first start of the season, the 6 1/2-furlong Richmond Runner Stakes at Belmont Park. He ran third in the Tom Fool Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), then finished sixth in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga. Commentator last worked Dec. 29 at Palm Meadows, going four furlongs in :47.40.
Also of interest is the Bobby Dibona-trained Actin Good, who looks to rebound off an eighth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Fred W. Hooper Stakes (gr. III) at Calder Dec. 15. The 4-year-old Yes It’s True gelding had back-to-back wins prior to that finish – an allowance win at Suffolk and a narrow victory in the Oct. 27 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park.
Pop Goes the Tiger, Elite Squadron, Notgonagetemtoday, Rexson’s Rose, Miner’s Lamp, Olympic, Dr Googles Boogles, Yes He’s the Man, and A.J. Melini complete the field.
$100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III, race 9, approximate post 5:00 p.m.), one mile for four-year-olds and upward, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Timber Reserve, 117, Javier Castellano
2. Pop Goes the Tiger, 111, Constantino Hernandez
3. Elite Squadron, 115, Calvin Borel
4. Notgonagetemtoday, 110, Jose Lezcano
5. Commentator, 117, Joe Bravo
6. Rexson's Rose, 111, Jorge Chavez
7. Miner's Lamp, 112, Jose Verenzuela
8. Olympic, 110, Eddie Castro
9. Actin Good, 116, Eibar Coa
10. Chatain, 118, Cornelio Velasquez
11. Dr Googles Boogles, 111, Kent Desormeaux
12. Yes He's the Man, 114, John Velazquez
13. A. J. Melini, 111, Elvis Trujillo