Summer Bird, who received the Eclipse Award as the top 3-year-old male earlier in the week, was back in his stall Jan. 22 after a walk and being spoiled by his owners, Drs. K. K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.
“He’s the champion carrot eater,” said K. K. Jayaraman, as Summer Bird emptied a bag of carrots and was starting on peppermints.
The Jayaramans and trainer Tim Ice travelled to Beverly Hills to pick up the award for Summer Bird, a maiden at this time last year while at Oaklawn. The sophomore was third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) before going on to win the Belmont Stakes, the Travers, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I) and bankrolling $2,323,040 along the way. He finished his season with a fourth-place finish behind Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
“We loved the way he made up ground in the Arkansas Derby,” K. K. Jayaraman said. “I know some people thought he was a fluke when he won the Belmont, but we always liked him for a distance.”
The Jayaramans’ champion is a Kentucky homebred, a son of Birdstone out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall. The couple, both cardiologists, have 27 head in training with Ice.
“They truly deserve (the Eclipse), as much as they have supported the sport,” Ice said of his main clients. “It was exciting and I enjoyed every minute of the evening. We were pretty confident we would win, but you just never know how the voting will go.
“He’s coming along; I’m optimistic,” Ice said of Summer Bird’s rehabilitation, following surgery in December on his right front leg. “He’s walking 20 minutes a day now and will increase to 30 minutes a day on Monday.
“At the Eclipse Awards, I talked to Dr. (Wayne) McIlwraith, who did his surgery. He looked at his X-rays and we’re keeping it month-to-month now. On March 1, we’ll know more about when he’ll go back to the track.”