09/18/2009 11:00PM

Summer Bird works sharp five furlongs


ELMONT, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Summer Bird reaffirmed his affinity for Belmont Park's main track Saturday morning with a visually-impressive five-furlong workout in 59.99 seconds as he prepares for a start in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 3.

While the time was certainly solid, the manner in which Summer Bird worked showed that he has appeared to come out of his victory in last month's Travers Stakes at Saratoga in good order and has plenty of energy left for a fall campaign that is supposed to include the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

"That's his best work that he's ever had by far," trainer Tim Ice said. "He likes this track, he loves Belmont. I wish the Breeders' Cup was at Belmont."

Summer Bird, with regular rider Kent Desormeaux up, came out at 8:45 a.m. following the renovation break. He was eager as he backed up to the sixteenth pole and continued that way as he galloped through the stretch and around the clubhouse turn. Desormeaux brought Summer Bird to a walk at the seven-furlong pole to allow some of the other horses that were going to breeze to break off well ahead of him. Desormeaux then got Summer Bird back galloping and he had a good run up to the five-furlong pole.

Doing it all on his own, Summer Bird went off in splits of 11.89 seconds, 23.77, 35.37 and, with Desormeaux taking a firm hold of the reins in the stretch, Summer Bird came home in 24.62 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.32 and pulled up seven-eighths in 1:27.30.

"He carried me all the way around there, in the bridle," Desormeaux said. "I think it's the fastest he ever breezed and the best he's ever felt. He's getting better."

"I told Kent it gave me goose bumps watching him work," Ice said. "He worked quick enough, but the main thing was how he looked. He's right on target. We'll get one more work next Saturday and try to keep him as happy as possible and in two weeks we'll be ready."

Summer Bird will attempt to become the 10th 3-year-old to win the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same year. The list includes Easy Goer (1989), Temperence Hill (1980), Arts and Letters (1969), Damascus (1967), Sword Dancer (1959), Gallant Man (1957), One Count (1952), Twenty Grand (1931) and Man o' War (1920).

Others pointing to the Gold Cup include Quality Road and Macho Again. Asiatic Boy, who is more likely to run in the Hawthorne Gold Cup the same day, worked four furlongs in 49 seconds Saturday morning.