Now that the summer rains have changed to autumn rains—and, boy, did they come with a vengeance on Saturday in New York—the glorious chestnut colt Summer Bird is shining even more brightly. Quality Road’s connections can bemoan the track condition, but, wet track or no, Summer Bird wasn’t going to be denied victory in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, becoming the first horse since Easy Goer in 1989 to accomplish the Belmont, Travers and JCGC triple. The Eclipse award for top 3-year-old colt is a lock, in my opinion, regardless of the Breeders’ Cup Classic outcome. Honestly, much like Rachel Alexandra, what other 3-year-old colt or gelding has accomplished what he has this year—and continues to meet each challenge placed before him?
I loved Summer Bird back in April, pegging him a longshot flyer in the G2 Arkansas Derby off a maiden win, and then, for Ray Paulick’s Kentucky Derby Index, I was the only pundit to give him a vote—then justified my choice in a blog post which gained varied comments, including SaratogaSpa speculating he might try the Belmont-Travers double (good call) and my good friend Superfecta’s prophetic “I think he’ll be a big threat in New York.” Amen, sister!
In addition to his continuing upward trajectory, it’s so refreshing to not hear he’s being rushed to stud. According to trainer Tim Ice, “I think there's still a lot of upside to him. Today proved he can compete with older horses; he'll be back as a 4-year-old and he'll be taking on older horses most likely in the Breeders' Cup. He's a colt that has moved forward with each race he's won. He is what we thought he was.”
A champion, that’s what he is. On to Santa Anita!