11/09/2009 12:00AM

Summer Bird to run in Japan Cup Dirt

Barbara D. Livingston
Summer Bird, with Kent Desormeaux up, checks in fourth in last SaturdayÕs BC Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. - After traveling from Arkansas to Kentucky, to New York and New Jersey, back to New York and then to California, Summer Bird next will be discovering Japan.

Tim Ice, the trainer of Summer Bird, on Monday said that an invitation has been accepted to run Summer Bird in the Japan Cup Dirt on Dec. 6. Summer Bird, who finished fourth under jockey Kent Desormeaux on Saturday in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, will remain at Santa Anita until flying to Japan on Nov. 17.

"I'm filling out my paperwork right now, and Kent is coming by to do his later this morning," Ice said Monday morning. "We're going to try to get Birdstone some international recognition."

Birdstone is the sire of Summer Bird - who won the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup - and also of Mine That Bird, the Kentucky Derby winner who finished ninth in the BC Classic.

The Japan Cup Dirt is run one week after the better-known Japan Cup, which is on turf. The dirt race is run at Hanshin Race Course, at approximately 1 1/8 miles, and is on a right-handed course. The purse of the race is approximately $2.8 million.

Summer Bird's campaign this year - three Grade 1 wins, including one against older rivals - has made him the overwhelming favorite to be named champion 3-year-old male.

Ice said he was satisfied with the way Summer Bird performed on Saturday. Summer Bird was beaten three lengths by Zenyatta.

"Zenyatta deserved it. She ran a hell of a race," Ice said. "She beat me, but it was fun to watch her run, to be a part of it. I'm proud of the way my horse ran."

Summer Bird removed doubt about his ability to handle a synthetic surface. He had been based in California one year ago with trainer John Sadler, but was said at the time to not be handling the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, so he left the circuit. Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, who bred and own Summer Bird, turned him over to Ice, who has had a breakout first year as head trainer.