Birdstone Will Return 'Home' to Gainesway

Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who was retired earlier the week of Nov. 1 after suffering a chip fracture in his left front ankle, will stand at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Ky., Whitney's husband, John Hendrickson, said Nov. 5.

Birdstone, winner of the grade I Champagne, Belmont, and Travers Stakes, finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), after which a routine radiograph revealed the fracture.

Birdstone will join his half-sister, 3-year-old filly champion Bird Town, winner of the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), at Gainesway, where Whitney currently boards 22 mares.

"We're sending him back to where he was born," Hendrickson said. "We opted to keep 100% of him. And we decided we're going to price him for the long-term success, and make a statement as well by pricing him at $10,000. Our belief is, stallion fees are too high, especially for unproven horses.

"We could have gone a lot higher, obviously, but it's all about tradition. And why go to (Smarty Jones) for $100,000 when our horse beat him? Plus, we have three grade I wins. We're hoping, with his record and his bottom line, it makes him attractive to breeders.

"It's not that we don't have a high opinion of him, it's the exact opposite. We have such a high opinion of him, we want to give him the best chance for success.

"Gainesway was a no-brainer. They do a great job, and we've had a lot of luck with our 'Birds' there. So, the Bird is back in his nest. This makes a lot of sense. We could have opted for the big payout, but we're in this to promote the sport as well, and we felt this was the best way to go about it.

"It wasn't about money; it was about where he'd be the happiest. And Gainesway is all old Whitney land. We gave it a lot of thought, and the bottom line is, Birdstone is going home."

Hendrickson said Birdstone has been sent to trainer Nick Zito's barn at Churchill Downs and is scheduled to go to Gainesway within the next week.

"Nick has done a terrific job, and we can't thank him enough," Hendrickson said.

Birdstone retires with five victories from nine starts for earnings of $1,575,600.