June 3, 2010

Bye Bye Birdie

Nine starts and out. Summer Bird, the finest sophomore male in the nation last year, has been retired after X-rays taken this week showed that he has not properly healed from a cannon bone fracture suffered while preparing for the Japan Cup Dirt last Fall.

The news comes just two days before the Belmont Stakes, a race that served as Summer Bird's coming out party last June. Sent off at 11-1 that day, Summer Bird impressively won the final leg of the Triple Crown in impressive style. The classic victory was followed by a 2nd place finish to horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Haskell, before winning back to back major races in the Travers Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Those grade 1 victories, in which he defeated Quality Road both times, cemented Summer Bird's championship season.

Summer Bird had been galloping daily for new trainer, Tim Ritchey, at Delaware Park when the news was announced. He will remain there until his owners, the Jayaramans, finalize his stud plans. Summer Bird is a son of another Belmont winner, Birdstone, out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall. He will enter stud in the 2011 breeding season.

Like all twelve entrants in this year's Belmont, Summer Bird entered last year's Test of Champions far from a star. He had raced only four times, with only a maiden victory to his credit, but with his win in the Belmont last year, Summer Bird proved he was a horse on the rise and ready to step up to the elite level. This year's field will be trying to emulate the excellent example set by the late blooming star of 2009.

It is always sad to see a star leave the races, and in Summer Bird's case, it clearly comes far too early. He ran only nine times in his career with four wins and over $2.3 million in earnings. Who knows how good the big, strong chesnut may have become, if not for his ill-fated trip to Japan, and the early retirement that followed. Bye Bye Birdie...you will be missed.


Heather Lea Ice said...

wonderful article !! very well written. thank you for your tribute to such a remarkable horse. the drs jay will place him at a farm where he will recieve the best of care as they truly care about their horses. as disappointed as i am that he will not be able to return to racing, i cant wait to see his babies!!!

Chicago Guy said...

The good doctors need to remember the word "karma" After his obviously remarkable training job, Mr. Ice was rewarded by having all the horses taken away. I don't know the whole story, I'm sure, the Drs. change trainers seemingly on a whim. Much like the goof who owned Paraneck Stables, who destroyed Unbridled's Song by running him in the KY Derby hurt. Given his success at stud, who knows what that horse might've done with a classy owner.

railrunner said...

It's a shame to see him go after such a short time on the track. Aside from his three big wins last year I thought he ran a good race in the Breeders' Cup Classic too against such accomplished older horses.

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you Heather, I am sure you will miss him. I look forward to seeing his offspring in the near future!

LDP said...

I was really looking forward to him coming back this year, too. While I believe that he was a little overraced last year when they took him to Japan, I'm not going to point any fingers. It is a saddness he had to go after such a short time.