Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Timber Country Axed from Today's Belmont

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Timber Country Axed from Today's Belmont

Article excerpt

Preakness winner Timber Country, who probably would have been the odds-on favorite in today's Belmont Stakes, was scratched Friday from the race because of a fever.

The decision to hold out Timber Country, one of two horses with a chance to get trainer D. Wayne Lukas a record fifth consecutive victory in Triple Crown races, came late in the afternoon.

"Timber Country had spiked a fever," Lukas said. "After waiting about an hour to see if the temperature would come down, and it didn't, a decision was made to medicate him. There was no recourse. He is fine now."

The medication included butazolidin, which will linger in Timber Country's system today. It is not permitted in the bloodstream of horses racing in New York.

"Trainer after trainer was telling me (Friday morning) that Timber Country never looked better than when he returned to the track," Lukas said. "The colt was as sharp as I've ever seen him (Friday morning)."

But the inklings of trouble came early in the afternoon when Timber Country's feed tub was untouched. His temperature was taken, and it was 103 degrees - about 3 degress above the norm for a horse.

"We decided to wait an hour or so to see what would happen," Lukas said.

Timber Country's fever went up up another degree in that hour. The medicine was given.

"Once we medicated him, it took away all our options," Lukas said. "The horse is too valuable to everybody concerned" to risk his health by running him in the race instead of treating the illness.

Lukas said all the owners were in agreement with the decision about Timber Country.

The scratch leaves Lukas with Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch in the race. But he had high hopes for Timber Country.

"I'm sick to my stomach about this," Lukas said. "I thought the Belmont was the perfect situation for Timber Country. …

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