Summer Bird, the champion 3-year-old colt of 2009 who strung together victories in the Belmont Stakes, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup, has died from colic at the age of 7 in Japan.
A son of Belmont winner Birdstone out of Hong Kong Squall, by Summer Squall, Summer Bird was bred and owned by Drs. K.K. and Vilasini “Devi” Jayaraman and trained by Tim Ice. He was the first horse since Easy Goer in 1989 to sweep what arguably are New York's three biggest races for males (Belmont, Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup).
At the end of his 3-year-old campaign, he was sent to compete in the 2009 Japan Cup Dirt but sustained a cannon fracture while training. Efforts to bring him back to racing in 2010 failed, and Summer Bird was retired to stud for the 2011 breeding season at Pauls Mill near Versailles, Ky., standing for a first-year fee of $15,000. His race record was four wins and one second (G1 Haskell) from nine starts, and earnings of $2,323,040.
Summer Bird covered 148 mares in his initial season, then was moved to WinStar Farm in 2012, covering 141 mares. Last November, the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association purchased Summer Bird to join its stallion roster on the island of Hokkaido. At the time of the deal it was noted by WinStar president Elliott Walden that WinStar had the option to bring the horse back for a retirement in the U.S. following completion of his stud career. He covered one book of mares in Japan.
Summer Bird's first yearlings sold in the U.S. in 2013, 44 of them averaging $34,545.
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