(from Monmoth Park)
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird, expected to take on Preakness (gr. I) champion Rachel Alexandra in the Aug. 2 Haskell Invitational (gr. I), worked 1:13 4/5 for six furlongs at Monmouth Park July 19 as he continues to prepare for the $1 million event.
“He was perfect again,” said trainer Tim Ice, who watched the workout from the clocker’s stand on the Monmouth Park backstretch. “Everything is exactly on schedule. He’ll have his final breeze next Sunday. Kent (jockey Desormeaux) will be here for that.”
Desormeaux, who was aboard for the Belmont win, has the return call in the Haskell. He will be looking to become the first rider in Monmouth Park history to win back-to-back Haskells, having won it last year aboard Big Brown.
“He galloped out strongly,” Ice said. “He’ll gallop between now and his next work and then gallop up to the race.”
A winner of two of five starts, Summer Bird broke his maiden at second asking on March 19 at Oaklawn Park. He returned to run third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) before running on to be sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He followed that up with a 2 3/4-length win in the Belmont Stakes.
Owned and bred by Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, Summer Bird has earned $723,040. He is by Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone from the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall.
In addition to classic winners Rachel Alexandra and Summer Bird, the 1 1/8-mile Haskell is expected to draw Munnings , Atomic Rain and Bunker Hill. Considered possible for the race are Papa Clem and Duke of Mischief.