06/03/2010 12:00AM

Summer Bird retired with hairline fracture


Summer Bird, last year's champion 3-year-old and Belmont Stakes winner, has been retired because of a hairline fracture, according to his owner and breeder, Kalarikkal Jayaraman.

Summer Bird, who also won the Travers last year, remains at trainer Tim Ritchey's barn at Delaware Park, Jayaraman said, and there are no stud plans yet. A 4-year-old Birdstone colt, Summer Bird had been scheduled to return to breezing in late May.

Summer Bird injured himself last fall while training in Japan for the Japan Cup Dirt. He missed that race and returned to Hollywood Park. In early December, he underwent surgery to insert a screw in his right foreleg, an operation that stabilized the non-displaced fracture of the cannon bone. In February, Jayaraman transferred the colt from trainer Tim Ice to Ritchey, who had hoped to return the colt to the races.

"There's no soundness problem," Jayaraman said. "He was supposed to start breezing last week, but we took an X-ray but he has still has a tiny hairline fracture that never healed completely. He's not lame and he's been galloping a couple of miles every day. But we had consultations with some veterinarians, and they all suggested it's safer not to put him through the rigors of training and it's safer to retire him as a stallion."

Jayaraman and his wife, Devi, bred and campaigned Summer Bird from their Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall, whom they bought for $22,000 as a yearling.

Hong Kong Squall was winless, but when the Jayaramans bred her to first-year stallion Birdstone, they came up with classic-winning gold. Unraced at 2, Summer Bird debuted with a fourth-place finish in an Oaklawn Park allowance. From there, he won 4 of 9 career starts, including the Belmont, Travers, and 2009 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He also was second in the Haskell, six lengths behind Rachel Alexandra. He finished third in the Arkansas Derby behind Papa Clem and Old Fashioned before running sixth in Mine That Bird's Kentucky Derby. Summer Bird earned $2,323,040.