12/24/2013 1:22PM

Summer Bird, Belmont stakes winner, dies in Japan

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Barbara D. Livingston
Summer Bird, winner of the 2009 Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup and that year's champion 3-year-old male, died on Dec. 24 of colic while standing at stud in Japan.

Summer Bird, the champion 3-year-old male of 2009 and winner of that year’s Belmont Stakes, died Dec. 23 of colic in Japan.

The news was initially reported by the Twitter account of Japan-based Paca Paca Farm.

The 7-year-old from the first crop of sire and 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone had been standing at Shizunai Stallion Station, which is operated by the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association on the island of Hokkaido. Summer Bird was about to stand his second season in Japan after being sold to the JBBA for the 2013 breeding season.

Summer Bird made his on-track debut in March of his 3-year-old season and broke his maiden in his second start at Oaklawn Park. A third-place finish in his subsequent start, the Arkansas Derby, gave him enough earnings to qualify for the 2009 Kentucky Derby, where he finished sixth at odds of 43.60-1.

After skipping the Preakness, Summer Bird returned for the Belmont Stakes. In the 1 1/2-mile classic, he overcame a troubled start and charged down the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths at 11.90-1.

That win kicked off a powerful summer campaign that included wins in the Travers Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the latter against older competition, as well as a runner-up finish in the Haskell Invitational Stakes and a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was overwhelmingly voted champion 3-year-old male.

After his Breeders’ Cup start, Summer Bird was sent overseas for a start in the Japan Cup Dirt, but a cannon bone fracture while training up to the race ultimately ended his career. Summer Bird retired with four wins in nine career starts for earnings of $2,323,040, racing for Drs. K. K. and Vilasini Jayaraman and trainer Tim Ice.

Summer Bird was retired to Pauls Mill near Versailles, Ky. for the 2011 breeding season, and his first crop of 93 foals will be 2-year-olds in 2014. He was acquired by WinStar Farm in a deal that also included stallions Bellamy Road, Artie Schiller and U S Ranger to stand there in 2012. Summer Bird was then sold to Japan for the following season.

Homebred in Kentucky by the Jayaramans, Summer Bird was out of the placed Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall, who produced five winners from eight foals to race.

*** The original article has been corrected to refect Summer Bird's fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic, his final start ***