Sunday, November 29, 2009

Summer Bird, Grounded

In another week we would have been getting ready to see this year's eventual three year old champion colt, Summer Bird, take on the world's best in the Japan Cup Dirt. After a vigorous campaign that included nine starts in just his first year racing, Summer Bird was set to spread his wings again and try to become the first American hose to win the Japan Cup Dirt. Those hopes were soon shot clear out of the sky when it was discovered that, after a five furlong workout, Summer Bird had fractured the medial carpal bone.

Nothing yet has been determined, except for the obvious decision that the golden chestnut star will not be running in the Japan Cup dirt. All that the public knows, as of now, is that Summer Bird will return to the States within a couple of days, then be further evaluated by a vet. Until these recent events, the connections of Summer Bird had been planning to bring the colt back as a four year old, to race in some of the more prestigious handicap races. Depending on what the vet reports, the hopes of his returning for a second year of racing may have been dashed away into oblivion.

When I first heard the news of Summer Bird's injury it was like feeling a blow to the chest, knocking the wind right out of me. I couldn't believe it. Summer Bird was just getting started, the year he had would have any other year earned him Horse of the Year in America.

Early this year nobody had even heard of the talented colt, all he was was a good looking three year old yet to break his maiden. That picture changed drastically after the colt broke his maiden, second asking, in March. From there he was thrust into stakes company, where he would finish third to Old Fashioned and Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby. With such a good finish he was then entered in the largest race in America, the Kentucky Derby, where he wound up sixth.

It was after that race that everything started to click for the young colt. Trainer Tim Ice, skipped the Preakness, allowing him five weeks of rest, before returning in the Belmont. There, Summer Bird finally found his best stride, which sent him soaring past the Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and the highly regarded Dunkirk, to an impressive Belmont victory.

From there Summer Bird would win two of his next three starts, the only blemish, if it can be called that, was a runner up finish in the Haskell. His next two starts were in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he twice defeated the Florida Derby winner Quality Road. The combination of Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup had not been seen for twenty years, the last horse to pull of the feat was the great Easy Goer. Again remember this is Summer Bird's first season as a racehorse.

Even after running fourth in the Breeders Cup Classic, over the synthetic surface Pro-Ride, the hopes for this colt returning as a four year old burned within all racing fans. If he would return it would mark a great accomplishment for the industry, seeing as all the winners of the three year old Classics would return for at least another season of racing. It has been many years since such a thing has happened in the sport of racing, which is dominated by money hungry owners.

This is a huge blow to the industry. Summer Bird was such a talent, such a brightly shining star. Once he understood how the game of racing worked he turned into a superstar, a golden streak, soaring across the track. I hope the injury is not career ending and that he can return to the track, so that he will be able to finish his streak of brilliance, that was so rudely interrupted. Even more though, I hope he will remain safe, for as much as I would love to see him return I could not bear the thought of him being rushed into injury. As of now all we can do is pray, pray that this star will be safe, no matter what the cost.

1 comment:

  1. A real bummer of news from Japan. He'll be honored with an Eclipse soon, but I sure hope this is not how his career ends. We all want the Bird happy, healthy, and back at the races next year.