Timber Country set to hit the long road

January 11, 1995|By Bill Finley | Bill Finley,New York Daily News

Between now and the first Saturday in May, Wayne Lukas will be asked about the jinx at least 50,000 times, as if winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the 2-year-old championship means Timber Country might as well not even show up at the Triple Crown. The facts: no Breeders' Cup winner has ever won a Triple Crown race and Easy Goer, who won the 1989 Belmont, is the only 2-year-old champ to win a Triple Crown race since 1979.

On Saturday, the road to the Kentucky Derby begins in earnest and Breeders' Cup winner Timber Country, who will be named 2-year-old champ tomorrow, will be the first star in action. Weather permitting, he is slated to go in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows, which will be his first step toward the Derby and could be the first sign that he's going to show that the jinx is gibberish.

Though there are a thousand ways to lose the Derby and only one way to win it, Timber Country appears to be well-suited to bust the jinx. Unlike many of his predecessors, he was not a precocious 2-year-old likely to burn out and he gives every indication he'll get a distance.

In the meantime, Lukas has to hope the weather changes in California. The state has been deluged by rain over the last week and there is no end in sight. At Bay Meadows, racing has been canceled today and tomorrow because the bulk of the horse population has been unable to train.

* YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART: Trainer John Kimmel unveiled a number of good 2-year-olds last year, including the freakishly fast Cryptic Bid and Remsen winner Thunder Gulch. The secret of his success? His horses have a lot of heart.

Kimmel is a believer in a new technology that provides a trainer with an ultrasonic evaluation of the cardiovascular profile of a horse. The profile looks at all aspects of the heart, thickness of the walls, how much blood it pumps while at rest, etc. The key element is the size of the heart. Tests have found that horses with large hearts tend to be better runners. For instance, Secretariat's heart was 2 1/2 times the normal size.

Kimmel uses the information to buy horses at yearling and 2-year-old sales that have excellent cardiovascular profiles.

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