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2009 Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird
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Champion Summer Bird Retired

Summer Bird, unable make it back from a fracture, has been retired to stud.

Champion Summer Bird, who catapulted to stardom in the 2009 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has been retired due to complications of a fracture suffered last fall prior to the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I).

2009 Belmont Stakes Slideshow
Belmont09 Summer Bird's Belmont.

The son of Birdstone –Hong Kong Squall, by Summer Squall, burst on the scene when he scored an impressive 2 1/4-length victory in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at odds of 11-1 for trainer Tim Ice.


Following a second-place finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Summer Bird rattled off victories in the Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), defeating Quality Road  both times. He then finished a solid fourth, beaten three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), in which he was running on a synthetic surface for the first time.


Sent to Japan for the Japan Cup Dirt, Summer Bird sustained a hairline fracture of the lower end of his right front cannon bone. Surgery was performed to stabilize the bone, and it was hoped the colt would be able to return for a 4-year-old campaign.


During his layoff, Summer Bird was turned over to Tim Ritchey to train, and he was back jogging and galloping, but a repeat set of X-rays showed that bone had not healed sufficiently to withstand rigorous training.


The colt’s owners and breeders, Drs. K.K. and Vilasini “Devi” Jayaraman, after talking to Ritchie decided to retire the colt to stud for the 2011 breeding season.


“We’ve been in racing for 30 years and he gave us our greatest thrills, especially when he won the Belmont Stakes,” said K.K. Jayaraman, who would drive with his wife to all of Summer Bird’s races from their home in Florida. “He was just a pleasure to be around, and because of him we met a lot of wonderful people. It was a great year, and he took us to places we never would have gone.”


Jayaraman said several farms have expressed interest in acquiring a percentage in the horse, but no plans have been finalized at this point.


2009 Travers Slideshow
Belmont09 Summer Bird's Travers.

Summer Bird retires with four victories from nine starts, with one second and one third, for earnings of $2,323,040. He displayed his versatility by coming from 15 lengths back to finish third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and 14 lengths back to finish a respectable sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after being forced to go seven-wide turning for home.


But he showed more speed in the Belmont, and in his subsequent races he was closer to the lead. He won stakes on fast and sloppy tracks and became the first horse since Easy Goer in 1989 to win the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same year. For his accomplishments, he was voted the 2009 Eclipse Award as the nation's leading male 3-year-old.


He had tremendous staying power to go along with his speed, and would win by grinding his opponents into the ground. Summer Bird was a throwback to a time when horses were fast, tough, and could run all day.