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DEL MAR : Timber Country, 1995 Preakness Winner, Retires

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Preakness winner Timber Country, who earned a 1994 Eclipse award as the nation’s top 2-year-old male, has been retired after a tear was found in the ligament above his left ankle.

Trainer Wayne Lukas noticed swelling in the ankle after the colt worked six furlongs in 1:12 Monday morning at Monmouth Park.

A scan was done by veterinarian Robert Copelan and the tear, which was described as slight, was discovered.

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“Those kinds of injuries heal, but it takes forever,” Lukas said. “We didn’t need to give him a year off and then try to bring him back and not have any idea where we are.

“He’s pretty much enhanced his career already. We’re not going to try to bring him back.”

Owned by Gainesway Farm, Overbrook Farm and Bob Lewis, Timber Country was scratched from the Belmont Stakes the day before the race when it was said he came down with a fever.

Timber Country finished his career with five victories, two seconds and two thirds in 11 starts and earnings of $1,492,146. Besides the Preakness, his biggest victories came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Champagne.

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An incident that resulted in the second disqualification of the meeting for jockey Eddie Delahoussaye angered trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel, an outspoken critic of stewards Dave Samuel, George Slender and Dennis Nevin because of their decisions during the first 20 days of the meeting, had no stake in the outcome Thursday, but that didn’t stop him from speaking out.

“They’re incompetent,” he said. “They fired the last stewards [Samuel, Ingrid Fermin and Darrel McHargue were Del Mar stewards last year] and got worse ones. How can you take the number down if you can’t see it on the film? You don’t guess, and that’s what they did.”

After finishing second on Hold On Ima Coming, a 2-year-old filly, in Thursday’s fourth race, Delahoussaye was disqualified and placed seventh for allegedly interfering with Believingly on the far turn.

Angered because of a five-day suspension he received after Team Leader was disqualified from a victory on July 29, Delahoussaye said he asked jockey Martin Pedroza, who rode Believingly, to accompany him to a hearing with the stewards this morning. Delahoussaye is also going to ask Darrell Vienna, the trainer who is also a practicing lawyer, to come with him.

“I’m not going in there alone,” he said, “and if I do get days, I will definitely appeal.”

Samuel indicated Delahoussaye is not going to be suspended.

Replays of the incident were inconclusive.

“We thought it was a clear enough picture,” said Samuel. “We thought [Delahoussaye] had room to give [Pedroza] and just didn’t give it to him. [Delahoussaye’s horse] crowded [Pedroza’s horse] and stopped his momentum.

“Martin had another horse inside of him [Freckle Faced Gal] and he couldn’t relieve it himself. I’m not saying Eddie didn’t make the proper effort, but his horse just didn’t respond.”

Bruce Jackson, who owns and trains Hold On Ima Coming, was upset with the decision.

“I screamed at them on the phone,” said Jackson, whose filly would have earned $3,800 for finishing second. “I told them I thought it was terrible. They thought we made it too tight for Pedroza. I asked them how they could make an assumption on what they can’t see, and they said to come in [this morning] and we’ll show you.”

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On the same day Bobby Frankel ran his winning streak to four in the $1-million Pacific Classic, Track Gal did the trainer one better.

In a race overshadowed by Tinners Way’s second consecutive Pacific Classic victory, the 4-year-old daughter of Track Barron won her fifth race in a row on Sunday, the Rancho Bernardo Breeders’ Cup Handicap by two lengths.

Owned and bred by William Oldknow and Robert Phipps, Track Gal has six victories in nine starts and she was barely beaten in two of her defeats.

Trainer John Sadler has had much success in the past with sprinters Melair, Frost Free, Olympic Prospect and Valiant Pete, and Track Gal has developed into the area’s finest female sprinter.

A winner of one of three races as a 3-year-old, Track Gal was sidelined for more than eight months before returning March 19 at Santa Anita.

A much-troubled fourth in her return, Track Gal has done nothing wrong since. She won an allowance race at Santa Anita, two more at Hollywood Park, then won the Fantastic Girl on Del Mar’s opening program before the Rancho Bernardo.

Sadler said Track Gal will get some time off until the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, and he isn’t certain where she’ll run next. The Ancient Title on Oct. 7 is a possibility, and she could go east and run in a seven-furlong stake on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is also an option.


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