Classic winner Summer Bird is replicating his sire Birdstone’s 3-year-old exploits, as the chestnut colt parlayed his win in the Belmont S. (G1) in June into a dominating victory in the $1 million Travers S. (G1) August 29th at Saratoga. Birdstone pulled off the exact feat five years prior.
Under regular rider Kent Desormeaux, Summer Bird broke sharply and employed his newly-found running style – lying close to the early pace – while tracking three-wide over the sloppy local main track. As the field approached the far turn, Summer Bird began to forge to the lead and take control of the Mid-Summer Derby after a mile in 1:36.61. Straightening for home, the grand-looking chestnut swapped to his right lead and quickly powered away from his accomplished group of rivals, turning in a performance that would clearly stamp him as one of the leading 3-year-olds in the world. Summer Bird ran away from the favored Quality Road and hit the wire 3 ½ lengths in front of the non-threatening runner-up, Hold Me Back.
The final time for 1 ¼ miles was 2:02.83 and Summer Bird earned a lifetime best 110 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He left the gate wanting to run,” said Desormeaux. “At the five-sixteenths, he took off, full of run.”
Trained by Tim Ice for owners and breeders Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, Summer Bird added the Travers to his growingly impressive resume – now with a pair of Grade 1 victories including a Classic. His overall record improved to three wins from seven starts, which also includes a runner-up effort earlier this month in the Haskell Invitational (G1). He has now earned $1,573,040.
“For my colt to win the Belmont and come back and win the Travers, like Birdstone, means a lot,” said Ice, who believes Summer Bird should be Champion 3-Year-Old Colt this year. “I feel like I do (have the best 3-year-old colt).”
Out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall, Summer Bird added yet another prestigious win to the accomplishments of Birdstone’s first crop, as along with Mine That Bird the two top sophomores have won the Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont and Travers in 2009. Birdstone displayed the same Classic qualities as a racehorse that he is showing today as a sire, winning the 2004 Belmont S. over Smarty Jones and Travers later that year. He was the last horse to pull off that rare double of winning New York’s two biggest 3-year-old events before Summer Bird followed his footsteps Saturday.