Kent Desormeaux climbed aboard Summer Bird Aug. 15 as the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner put in his first serious work for the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) over the main track at Saratoga.
With trainer Tim Ice looking on, the chestnut son of 2004 Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Birdstone, went five furlongs in 1:01.97, breezing, the ninth-fastest of 20 moves at the distance.
Clockers caught Summer Bird in splits of :24 4/5 and :36 4/5, while Ice personally timed him in 1:01.68, galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.67.
“I wasn’t looking for a whole lot,” said Ice. “If he went slower or faster, as long as he was doing it on his own, that’s all that matters.”
Desormeaux declared the move to be “poetry in motion” and said he was very happy with the way the colt went.
“I was totally a passenger,” said Desormeaux. “He’s on target.”
Summer Bird, who finished second to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) in his most recent start, will work again Aug. 22 for the 1 1/4-mile “Mid-Summer Derby” on Aug. 29.
“Next week we’ll look for the same kind of work for him,” said Ice. “We’ll see how he comes back.”
Following his work, Summer Bird cooled out under the shedrow of the stakes barn, stopping once every circuit to eye the phalanx of reporters, photographers and cameramen recording his every move.
“He thinks he’s a movie star,” said Ice. “That’s what’s so great about a horse like him. He enjoys shipping, he enjoys people, nothing bothers him. That’s one of the advantages I have with this colt. Nothing gets to him.”
Ice, who estimated the colt to stand about 16.1 hands and weigh between 1,150 and 1,200 pounds, said Summer Bird was putting back some of the weight he lost after the Haskell on August 2.
“He lost a little bit of weight coming out of the Haskell, which I thought he would, running as hard as he did,” he said. “He’s putting weight back on. I’m not at all disappointed in the way he looks.”
In other news, 2008 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Gayego returns to the race after a layoff of more than four months Aug. 17 in a six-furlong optional-claiming allowance against five other runners.
Purchased by Godolphin Stable and transferred to the barn of Saeed bin Suroor, Gayego was flown to Dubai this past winter where he won a group III stakes race, beating Diabolical, and then finished second March 28 to Two Step Salsain the $1 million Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Etisalat (UAE-II).
“He could probably use another work or two, but the other race for him up here is the Forego (gr. I, Sept. 5), and we’ve got Pyrofor that and Darley has Pass the Point,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s North American racing manager and assistant to Suroor. “So why have three in that?”
Mettee said Gayego had no physical issues since returning from Dubai other than shedding a frog after returning to Belmont Park. Mettee said the horse has no long-term agenda.
“He can do so many things; he does six to nine (furlongs), dirt or Poly. It can get a little tricky, but the good thing is he’s got Poly form, too, and he acts like a horse that could go on the grass, too.”