(from Monmouth Park)
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird put in his final work for the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), breezing five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 July 26 with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.
The Birdstone colt was on the track at approximately 9:45 a.m. The surface was muddy and sealed after overnight rains swept through the area. Monmouth Park clockers got him going the first quarter in :26 and the half in :49.
“He had a good strong work and he galloped out strong,” said Tim Ice, who conditions Summer Bird for Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman. “Everything was great. I couldn’t be happier.”
Desormeaux, who was aboard for the Belmont Stakes win and will be back aboard in the Aug. 2 Haskell.
“The track was a little slick and I got him coming home in 11 and change,” Desormeaux said. “I tried to get him over the best part of the racetrack. He knows the game and knows how to prepare himself. He’s ready.”
Desormeaux is looking to become the first rider in Monmouth history to win back-to-back Haskells. He captured last year’s race atop Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Big Brown.
Summer Bird, who shipped to Monmouth from Louisiana in early July, will face fellow superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Preakness (gr. I), in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell. Rachel Alexandra is expected to ship to Monmouth from Saratoga on the morning of Aug. 31 and school in the paddock with that day’s sixth race runners.
Also expected in the starting gate for the 42nd running of the Haskell are Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Papa Clem, multiple grade II winner Munnings , Long Branch victor Atomic Rain, Iowa Derby winner Duke of Mischief , and Continental Mile champ Bunker Hill.