02/24/2016 11:28AM

Champion Timber Country dies at age 24

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Timber Country, a United States champion and classic winner who went on to become a successful sire in Japan, has died. The son of Woodman was 24.

Timber Country, campaigned by Overbrook Farm, Gainesway Thoroughbreds, and Robert and Beverly Lewis, and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, burst onto the national scene by winning the Grade 3 Balboa Stakes and Grade 1 Champagne Stakes as a juvenile in 1994. He subsequently posted a two-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, locking up an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

The following spring, Timber Country was winless in California’s series of Triple Crown preps, finishing third in the San Rafael, second in the San Felipe, and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. Nonetheless, he was sent off favored in the Kentucky Derby, as part of an entry with the brilliant filly Serena’s Song, also owned by the Lewises, but finished third to their Lukas-trained stablemate Thunder Gulch. Timber Country rebounded two weeks later to win the Preakness Stakes by half a length over Oliver’s Twist, with Thunder Gulch another neck back in third. The victory made him the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner ever to take an American classic the following year.

The Preakness would prove to be Timber Country's final career start, as a virus forced him to scratch from the Belmont Stakes and a tendon injury later that year ended his career. In all, he won 5 of 12 starts and earned $1,560,400.

Sold to stand in Japan, Timber Country is represented by 778 winners, including 22 stakes winners, from 17 crops of racing age, and his progeny have earned $110,459,983 in U.S. dollars. His runners are led by Japanese champions Admire Don – a seven-time Group 1 winner – and Gilded Age; Japanese Group 1 winner Mugamuchu; and multiple Australian Group 1 winner Eremein.

Timber Country also spent a year on lease at stud in Dubai, servicing mares for the Godolphin operation. One of the chief runners to emerge from that season was Balletto, a Grade 1-winning juvenile in the U.S. who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Out of the stellar broodmare Fall Aspen, Timber Country was a half-brother to stakes winners Fort Wood, Northern Aspen, Bianconi, Prince of Thieves, Hamas, Elle Seule, Colorado Dancer, and Mazzacano.