U.S. Champion Summer Bird Dead From Colic in Japan

by | 12.24.2013 | 9:55am
Summer Bird, a son of Birdstone–Hong Kong Squall, by Summer Squall

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.

Click here to learn more about colic.


  • Piquetour

    Very sad news. I hope some his offspring come to the U.S.

  • DeePet


  • TruckDriver

    I was just thinking about him over the weekend! How sad. RIP Summer Bird.

  • HappyHarriett

    Oh! I remember him well. What a sad and premature end to his lovely life. Run free in the Great Green Pastures, Summer Bird.

  • Marie Jost

    This is so sad. I had the pleasure of seeing him at WinStar last year, as well as watching him race in the 2009 Haskell at Monmouth.
    Such a loss, another sad moment this week in the horse racing world. RIP

  • Evelyn Waugh

    Om mani padme hum, Summer Bird.

  • Beach

    “Sad” is such a little word that doesn’t even begin to describe this. RIP Summer Bird.

  • c bea

    Sad loss.Wish Winstar hadn’t sold him.

  • we’re watching

    Why did this horse die from colic is the bigger question. Shame on WinStar for selling him overseas. If he meant that much to them, he would have stayed home., shame.

  • Odds Are Never In Our Favor

    Stop sending our horses to Japan!
    1) It has always been a death trap for U.S. horses.

    2) Summer Bird probably didn’t die from colic, he probably died from radiation.

  • betterthannothing

    Very sad news, what happened?

    • Lindsay

      He passed away from colic.

      • betterthannothing

        Lindsay, my question was: What may have triggered such fatal colic? The sharing of detailed information about serious and fatal cases along with years of equine medical records would help horsemen and veterinarians save more horses.

  • Patti Davis

    Here’s a link to the hilarious video of 2009 Kentucky Derby winning Mine That Bird beating up on his Jolly Ball, egged on by his exercise rider by mentioning Summer Bird’s victories against him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd_JU2-SCtc

    Too bad Summer Bird won’t be around to see the movie about his old rival.

  • Mimi Hunter

    This is very sad. They very first newspaper headline that I remember is: ‘Bali Ache Dies of a Belly Ache’ [should have checked the spelling of his name].

  • Mary Beth

    He was one of the most gorgeous, good looking horses I’ve ever seen. RIP Summer Bird :-(

  • Ida Lee

    To say I’m devastated is putting it mildly. I adored this beautiful and talented Champion…RIP Darling…

  • TrishaS

    I fell in love with summer bird when he 1st started running…I love talented beautiful chestnuts and he fit the bill…so sorry to hear he is gone. I wish he had stayed in America. RIP..

  • Convene

    Such sad news. He was a truly spectacular horse and would probably have been a great asset to the gene pool.

  • MyBigRed

    My Heart is broken….I never made it to WinStar to visit, Summer Bird before he left for Japan. I loved & adored this handsome horse. He was so exciting to watch & cheer him on in his races. Rest in Peace, Beautiful Boy. My Deepest Sympathy to his Connections & Fans.

  • perkydols

    When are we going to stop sending our stallions to Japan? It seems to me too many have suffered the ultimate consequences of colic while in the care of the Japan Stud Farms! While WinStar was gracious in their offer to have Summer Bird returned to them for retirement, perhaps the entire practice of sending our great stallions abroad and sending them to the Southern Hemisphere for breeding should be revisited. It is sad that in the end these great horses become pawns in the name of the almighty buck. Yes, colic can strike anywhere at any time but, are we doing these stallions a great disservice by compounding the frangible nature of their “infrastructure”? Just thinking……

  • rachel

    I was crazy about this horse.

  • kal98

    I ran a successful horse breeding facility for 15 years and not one of our horses died from colic that included 5 stallions all between the ages of 5 and 18! We even had a 24 yr old mare foaling without any problems although I do not suggest, my point is what are they doing with these poor very, very, very expensive horses with lots of insurance! I mean they are insured out the kazoo! Makes one think hmmm… I understand greed is the real killer of so many beautiful well bred horses.

  • raul

    I groomed him when he won the Arkansas derby

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