03/05/2010 12:00AM

Ice beginning to restock his barn

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A month after trainer Tim Ice split with owners K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman and lost 25 horses, including champion Summer Bird, the rebuilding process is moving right along for his stable. Ice has picked up horses from three new clients, including Dr. Leonard Blach, co-owner of Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird, and John Ed Anthony, who raced the 1992 Preakness and Arkansas Derby winner, Pine Bluff.

"Things are good," Ice said Friday. "I'm definitely in high spirits. I like the way that things are coming around."

Ice has gone to two auctions in Florida in the last month, and picked up a pair of 2-year-olds. Blach purchased a colt by Two Punch, while Bluegrass Legacy Equine purchased a colt by Afleet Alex. Both horses will join Ice's stable in the spring, along with some 2-year-olds for Marylou Whitney.

Anthony has sent a trio of 3-year-olds to Ice, and with the addition of those horses his current stable numbers eight head. Ice said he has also had conversations with a few other potential clients. Following the Oaklawn meet, he plans to base at Belmont Park. Last year, Ice spent a good amount of time in New York with Summer Bird, who won the Belmont Stakes, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

"I think the opportunity up there is a little bit greater," Ice said. "If you're at Belmont or anywhere up on the East Coast, you have different opportunities to run at different racetracks.

"There's no reason why you have to sit on a horse for a month, month and a half, and not be able to get to race them. With the variety of tracks, you should be able to get to run your horse when you like, and it gives you a chance to get better quality horses. The people up there have all been great, and I look forward to going back."

Ice was in his first full year as a head trainer when he guided Summer Bird through his championship season. The horse is bred and owned by the Jayaramans, who in early February transferred Summer Bird to trainer Tim Ritchey.

Summer Bird aimed at summer start

Summer Bird, who had been rehabbing from a non-displaced condylar fracture to his right foreleg sustained in November, resumed training Wednesday and could be ready for a race by the summer, Ritchey said Friday.

"Nothing's set right now, because he's only been to the track three days," he said, "but if I was going to guesstimate, I would think, hopefully, he'll be ready to run sometime the end of June, beginning of July. That would be my rough estimation, just depending on how we move forward with the horse and what goes from there."

Ritchey said Summer Bird would be based at Delaware Park following Oaklawn. The horse resumed training after receiving medical clearance following a recent set of X-rays.

"The X-rays were perfect," Ritchey said. "He's just jogging two miles easy, and we'll do that with him for probably five to seven days, and then we'll go forward from there. It looks very, very promising right now."

Summer Bird was injured when prepping for the Japan Cup Dirt, then had surgery to place a screw in the injury site to promote healing. He last raced Nov. 7, finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

* Palanka City, a Grade 3 winning sprinter who was second in her comeback race last month at Oaklawn, heads Sunday's ninth, a $75,000 optional claiming sprint for fillies and mares here Sunday.