Summer Bird, a three-time grade I winner and champion 3-year-old of 2009, has been purchased by the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association and will take up stud duty in Japan, WinStar Farm announced Nov. 13.
The 6-year-old son of Birdstone stood his first season at stud at Pauls Mill near Versailles, Ky., last year, then was moved to WinStar near Versailles, Ky., for 2012. In Japan, he will stand at Shizunai Stallion Station, alongside Empire Maker.
"While we think Summer Bird has a tremendous chance to be a successful stallion, we were approached by Japanese interests with a strong opportunity that the shareholders felt they could not pass up, and ultimately voted to do," said Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar. "We worked the deal out so that WinStar has the option of buying back Summer Bird at the end of his stallion career, and we'll hold money in escrow to ship him back to the United States at that time so that he can enjoy the proper retirement."
Walden said Summer Bird will go into a required quarantine before leaving for Japan in early December. The JBBA owns multiple successful stallion stations in Japan, and stands such leading sires as Empire Maker and Johannesburg.
Summer Bird was the runaway winner of the 2009 Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old male after becoming the first sophomore since Easy Goer to win the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, and Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I). Bred in Kentucky by Dr. K.K. Jayaraman and Dr. V. Devi Jayaraman out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall, he earned $2,323,040 on the track while campaigning for his breeders and trainer Tim Ice. He was injured in November 2009 while training for the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I), and was officially retired in June 2010.
Summer Bird bred two strong books of mares his first two years at stud, including 148 mares in 2011 and 141 mares last season. His first foals will be yearlings in 2013.