Belmont Stakes Profile: Summer Bird
by Trevor Whenham - 05/26/2009
Last race: Summer Bird wasn't the most impressive big longshot in the Kentucky Derby, but he certainly didn't embarrass himself at 44/1 either. He settled well back in the field early on and managed to stay out of trouble. Coming into the final turn he launched a bit, and he looked like he could be making progress as he moved seven wide in the stretch. He couldn't quite sustain the rapid pace, though, and he settled for a solid sixth. That's the crying spot for owners of the horse - only the top five horses get a piece of the purse.
Career highlights: Summer Bird is a very inexperienced horse. He didn't make his debut until March of this year. He was fourth in his first race, but he broke his maiden less than three weeks later at Oaklawn Park. His stakes debut came in the Arkansas Derby, where he finished a fast-closing third behind Papa Clem. The Belmont will be just his fifth race. So far he has employed the same running style each time out.
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux. Chris Rosier has ridden the horse through his short career, but the connections felt they needed an upgrade. They initially chose Joe Talamo, a hot young jockey from California. They reconsidered and instead chose Desormeax, a guy with much more experience over the Belmont track. Desormeaux has run in the Belmont six times, finishing second twice.
Trainer: Tim Ice. Ice is just 34 and in his first year as a trainer. He spent the last 10 years as an assistant trainer for several trainers, including Kent Desormeaux's brother, Keith. He had his first stakes winner on March 28, and Summer Bird is clearly the star of his stable. He's inexperienced as head trainer, but he has a strong base of experience and he's off to a strong start. This isn't the only time we'll hear his name.
Breeding: Summer Bird runs a similar style to Mine That Bird, and there is a good reason for that - both are sons of Birdstone, the upset winner of the 2004 Belmont. Summer Bird's dam was sired by Summer Squall, the winner of the 1990 Preakness after finishing second in the Derby. Most horses have the great Northern Dancer in their pedigree, but that horse shows up in Summer Bird's pedigree three times in five generations. That a clear sign of impressive class.
Racing style: He's a deep closer. He'll be looking to settle well off the pace before launching a move as the horses enter the long Belmont stretch.
Belmont prognosis: It's hard to assess a horse that is this inexperienced. He didn't seem to handle the Derby distance particularly well, but it was only his fourth career race, so maturity could be a bigger factor than anything else. He could certainly be a factor, but it's hard to imagine him stealing the win. Still, I'll likely use him on the bottom of exotics for the sake of value.