07/06/2009 12:00AM

Summer Bird has first breeze at Monmouth

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Trainer Gary Stute adjusts the forelock of Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem after his workout Monday at Monmouth Park. He is nominated to Saturday's Long Branch.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird had his first breeze at Monmouth Park on Monday morning, an easy five furlongs in 1:04.40.

The colt arrived here Friday to prepare for the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds on Aug. 2. Summer Bird galloped over the track Saturday and Sunday, leading to his first timed drill on the strip with exercise rider Leo Atempa aboard.

"It was fine, just what we wanted," trainer Tim Ice said. "He stretched his legs and he galloped out very strong. We usually pull him up at the half-mile pole, but the rider couldn't get him pulled up to the three-eighths. It was just an easy maintenance work. We'll get more into him as we get closer to the race."

It was Summer Bird's second work since the Belmont. He turned in an identical five furlongs in 1:04.40 at Louisiana Downs on June 27.

"We just wanted him to get a little something out of it," Ice said. "He's an aggressive horse when he trains. He was quite happy doing what he did today."

So far, Summer Bird has settled in nicely on the Jersey Shore.

"I like how he's handling the track," Ice said. "He seems to be getting a hold of it really well. Everything looks good as far as him being able to get over the surface."

With the Haskell being run on a Sunday, Ice will put Summer Bird on a schedule of Sunday breezes leading up to the race.

"We didn't want to take too much out of him today because in six days we'll start letting him train a little bit more," Ice said.

Several of the other leading 3-year-olds on the grounds also turned up recently on the work tab.

Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem also worked five furlongs Monday in 1:03.40, while on Sunday, Atomic Rain went four furlongs in 46 seconds and Bunker Hill was caught in 59.60 for five furlongs.

All three are nominated to the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes here on Saturday, the traditional Haskell prep.

Big Drama, winner of the Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town last time out, went four furlongs in 48 on Sunday. Trainer David Fawkes is leaning toward running Big Drama in the Haskell, but will look elsewhere if the sensational filly Rachel Alexandra is in the race.