Many have already conceded Horse of the Year to Rachel Alexandra, who went 8-0 in 2009 and beat the boys three times during a spectacular season.
But Tim Ice, trainer of Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Summer Bird, believes his 3-year-old son of Birdstone should receive strong consideration for the award if he can win the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet.
Summer Bird, who lost by six lengths to Rachel Alexandra in the two 3-year-olds’ only meeting in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, arrived at Santa Anita this week to begin preparations for the Breeders’ Cup and will work between the third and fourth races Sunday over the artificial Pro-Ride surface.
Kent Desormeaux, who won Oak Tree riding titles from 1990 through 1992 and has been aboard Summer Bird for the Haskell and the colt’s three big victories, will fly in from Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Ky. for the workout.
“Even when I ran him in the Haskell, Kent came in once before the race to work him,” Ice said. “Basically, I just want Kent to get a feel for him over the track. Not that Kent doesn’t know the track, but I want him and the horse to be in sync when they’re over it together. It’s always a plus, I think, to have the rider work him over the track.”
One thing is for certain — Summer Bird will clinch top 3-year-old male honors, if he hasn’t already, with a victory in the Classic.