Champion Summer Bird retired

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Last year's champion 3-year-old and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird has been retired due to a hairline fracture, according to his owner and breeder, Dr. 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. The 4-year-old Birdstone colt had been scheduled to return to breezing in late May.

Summer Bird initially 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 in June or July.

"There's no soundness problem," Jayaraman said. "He was supposed to start breezing last week, but we took an X-ray and 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.