Ever since his upset victory in the Belmont Summer Bird has done nothing wrong, in fact with the season he has had he would normally be the front runner for Horse of the Year. Beginning his racing career as a three year old Summer Bird wasn't even on the radar as one of the top male three year olds. His first win came in a maiden special weight on March 19. After that he finished third in the Arkansas Derby. His closing finish in the race had some people think that he could win the Derby, but he wound up a closing sixth. It was after this race that Summer Bird would begin his meteoric rise among the three year old division.
Summer Bird's trainer Tim Ice saw the growing up that his talented colt needed to do, so he opted to skip the Preakness pointing his colt to the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the one mile and a half Belmont Stakes. The five week rest seemed to do wonders for Summer Bird as he came flying up in the stretch to upset the Derby winner Mine That Bird. All looked like it was going to go well for Summer Bird, until he met up with Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell and wound up second by six lengths.
After the Haskell Summer Bird never looked back, winning the Travers against some of the best three year olds in the country, which set the stage for a show down between him and the track record setting Quality Road in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. At the top of the stretch it was Quality road on the lead with Summer Bird breathing down his neck. At the wire Summer Bird proved his class and his superior stamina, crossing the wire first by a neck.
Summer Bird is now preparing for the Breeders Cup Classic, America's richest day of racing. Normally Summer Bird would probably be one of the favorites, but the Classic will be held over the synthetic surface Pro Ride, which Summer Bird has yet to race over. Before Summer Bird was transferred to Tim Ice he used to train over the surface regularly, but it has been reported that Summer Bird did not take to the surface and that was the reason why he was moved to Oaklawn with Ice.
This fact may deter many from betting or supporting Summer Bird, but my gut tells me that Ice knows this colt well enough to help him run his race. During his time training for the Belmont, Summer Bird was not training well over the Belmont strip. Ice then added some caulks to his back shoes, which act like cleats, helping him to get a better hold of the track. Summer Bird, as you know ended up winning the Belmont, upsetting the favorite Mine That Bird. This fact gives me faith that Ice will find a way to help Summer Bird get a hold of the surface, to be ready to run his best race come Classic time.
Ice has worked Summer Bird over the surface a couple of times and seems to be pleased. He has also added the caulks again for better grip. Another thing Ice is planning to do is work Summer Bird between races, during the afternoon. The reason for this is because the Pro Ride surface will loosen up considerably in the afternoon, which may make horses who train well over it, dislike it by race time. This work will give Ice a better idea of how Summer Bird will handle a looser Pro Ride surface he will encounter when running in the Classic.
This is a talented colt who has a trainer that knows him inside and out. Summer Bird has been able to run over multiple surfaces and only seems to get better and better with age. His maturity combine with the skill of his trainer may just be enough to get Summer Bird over his earlier dislike of the surface. Summer Bird is our best hope at winning the Classic and defending our turf from the Euro invaders. Let's hope Ice and Summer Bird can pull another upset in the biggest race of the year.