Just when you thought the year was over and everybody would be winding down, Tim Ice decides to throw a curve ball. Almost immediately after the Breeders Cup Classic, Ice announced that Summer Bird would be attending the prestigious Japan Cup Dirt. For those that don't follow racing exclusively, Summer Bird was fourth in his last start, the Breeders Cup Classic, over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita.
This year Summer Bird has been nothing short of amazing, seeing as how he started off this year as a mere unraced, unknown maiden. Shortly after breaking his maiden he was thrust into stakes competition, his first would be the grade two Arkansas Derby. Here he met Papa Clem, Win Willy, and Old Fashioned, all of whom were Kentucky Derby bound. He would finish a well beaten, but closing third, giving some people the feeling that with more experience he could very well turn into a very nice colt.
From there he would go to the Kentucky Derby, where he finished a troubled sixth. It was then that Ice decided that he would forgo the Preakness and wait for the Belmont. This proved to be the push that Summer Bird needed to thrust him into becoming the best three year old colt in America. Closing in the last furlong, Summer Bird swept by Derby winner Mine That Bird and highly regarded Dunkirk, to take the Belmont and his first graded stakes/grade one win!
His only hiccup, if you can call it that was when he was distant second to super filly Rachel Alexandra, who is now one of the leading candidates for Horse of the Year. Since then he has run three more times, reigning victorious while remaining on dirt in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup, beating his highly regarded and very talented peer Quality Road. Following those races he ran fourth in the Classic in his first start over Pro-Ride.
Many trainers would have called it a year, and a very good one, especially since he is likely to become this year's champion three year old. A win in the Japan Cup, would surely put him in the running for an already contentious battle for Horse of the Year honors, with the two super fillies Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. His overall resume would read Belmont, Travers, Gold Cup, and Japan Cup. He has already made history in America by being the first horse in 20 years to complete New York's prestigious triple, if he were to win the Japan Cup he will only be the second horse from America to do so.
Summer Bird will be making the trip along with four others, including Tizway, who was third to Summer Bird in the Gold Cup this year. With Summer Bird's adaptability and talent, America will be well represented in the Japan Dirt Cup. Win or lose, Summer Bird will have had a great season, a win here will only be a cherry on top. So good luck Summer Bird, bring it home for the red, white and blue!