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Rick Samuels

Summer Bird Gallops; 'Rachel' in Great Shape

Summer Bird galloped in preparation of the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers at Saratoga.

From the New York Racing Association

Looking ahead to a possible start on the grass in the fall, trainer Tim Ice had Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird galloped the morning of Aug. 12 over the Oklahoma turf course as part of his preparations for the $1 million Shadwell Travers (gr. I) Aug. 29 at Saratoga Race Course.

“I’m going to keep him on the dirt right now; I didn’t like the way he looked over the turf,” said Ice. “He didn’t look comfortable. He doesn’t look like the same horse going on the turf than going over the dirt. I wanted to see what his reaction would be. Some horses don’t like it; some horses do.”

Ice will have Summer Bird, who is coming off a second-place finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), gallop over the main track the morning of Aug. 13 and work five-eighths of a mile Aug. 15 as he preps for the 1¼-mile “Mid-Summer Derby.”

“I have been happier with him training here than I was with him at Monmouth,” Ice said. “He looks good. He was training brilliantly coming into the Haskell. He was training as good going into the Haskell as he was in the Belmont. We just caught a superstar in the Haskell. He ran a winning race. As long as he tries and runs, that’s all I can ask from him.”

Ice said a grass race was still a possibility for Summer Bird down the line and that the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Nov. 7 was still an option.

“I’ll still nominate him to the (Turf) and keep that option open,” he said. “Maybe he didn’t like it because there were some divots over there. Being that it was the first time, he could have been unsure of it.”

In other Saratoga news, Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra emerged from her Aug. 11 four-furlong work in “great” shape, said assistant trainer Scott Blasi.

The 3-year-old filly, whose connections are mulling four grade I races at Saratoga for her next start, went a half-mile in :50.72.

According to trainer Steve Asmussen, Rachel Alexandra will work again Aug. 17 as she looks to a start in one of five grade I races: the Aug. 22 Alabama, the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers, the Aug. 30 Personal Ensign, or the Sept. 5 Woodward. Asmussen said she would also be nominated to the Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 7.

At this point, probables for the 129th running of the Alabama for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/4 miles include Westrock Stables’ Lake George winner Be Fair, Donver Stable’s Careless Jewel, Alan Brodsky’s Don't Forget Gil, Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely, III’s Funny Moon, C.E.C. Farms’ Milwaukee Appeal, Woodford Racing’s Tasty Temptation, and Arnold Zechter’s Wynning Ride. Bon Jovi Girl, Gozzip Girl, and Sweet and Flawless are questionable.