Thursday, October 1, 2009

Will Summer Bird Soar Again?

JCGC: Will Summer Bird Soar Again?
Travers winner Summer Bird faces older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup

Though his racing career began just seven months ago, Summer Bird has accomplished extraordinary things in a short period of time. The Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Shadwell Travers (gr. I) winner will try to defy the odds once again when he faces older horses for the first time in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.

Summer Bird, installed as the slight 2-1 morning-line favorite, will attempt to put a stranglehold on the 3-year-old male division in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup, but he will face a tall task. Not only will the son of Birdstone have to defeat a group of accomplished older horses that includes Macho Again, Dry Martini and Asiatic Boy, but he will have to once again take down Quality Road, who should be better prepared this time around.
“I think he’s up to it,” said trainer Tim Ice, who conditions Summer Bird for owners/breeders Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman. “He’s had seven races, and now is as good a time as any to face them. He looks super and he is doing excellent.”
A field of seven was drawn for the Gold Cup, which is the last of five grade I races on the Belmont card. Post time is slated for 5:43 p.m. EDT.
It has been quite a whirlwind four months for Summer Bird, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) in just his third start before going on to win the Belmont at odds of 11-1 five weeks later. The chestnut colt then finished runner-up to super filly Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) before completing his incredible span by dominating the Aug. 29 Travers at Saratoga by 3 1/2 lengths. Both of his grade I triumphs came under Kent Desormeaux, who will have the mount once again. They will break from post 3.
Summer Bird has worked three times at Belmont since his Travers win, the most recent one a five-furlong breeze Sept. 26 in 1:02.40. On Sept. 30, he schooled in the paddock between afternoon races.
Out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall, the Kentucky-bred Summer Bird has earned more than $1.5 million from his seven starts.
“Any grade I race is important, but when you add onto it the historical significance of Easy Goer being the last 3-year-old to win the Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same year, it’s very meaningful,” Ice said. "Horses like Man o’War and Arts and Letters did it. if Summer Bird could add this to his resume, it would speak volumes for him.”