Adam Coglianese photo
Leading 3-year-old Summer Bird continues to bolster the strength of Birdstone’s first crop, as on Saturday, Oct. 3rd the powerful chestnut captured his third Grade 1 triumph – and first against older horses – when winning the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont, placing him squarley on top of the 3-year-old colt division.
The win marked Summer Bird’s final tune-up for next month’s big showdown in California – the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Nov. 7th at Santa Anita. He will be a top contender in the Classic off of his Jockey Club Gold Cup victory where he wore down Quality Road in the stretch to post a length win over a sloppy Belmont main track. The final time in the 10-furlong event was 2:02.51, and the performance was good enough to earn Summer Bird a career-high 111 Beyer Speed Figure. In his last start, the colt earned a 110 Beyer winning the Travers (G1) at Saratoga.
Trained by Tim Ice, Summer Bird has now raced in five consecutive Grade 1 events from just eight lifetime starts. His first Grade 1 win came in a classic in just his fifth start: the Belmont Stakes (G1). It was the second classic winner from the first crop of Birdstone, who sired Mine That Bird, winner of the Kentucky Derby a month prior.
Summer Bird has rapidly ascended up the ranks since his Belmont score, and he is now in prime position for Eclipse honors at year’s end. Saturday, he became just the tenth sophomore and first since Easy Goer to win three of New York’s biggest Grade 1 races in the same campaign: Belmont, Travers & Jockey Club Gold Cup. He owns a record of 4-1-1 from eight starts with earnings now over the $2-million mark ($2,023,040) for his breeders and owners Dr. K. K. Jayaraman & Dr. V. Devi Jayaraman, who bred Summer Bird in Kentucky from the Summer Squall mare Honk Kong Squall.
“I think he should be champion 3-year-old colt,” said a proud Ice in the winner’s circle of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
A big performance in the all-important Classic could seal it.