Jockey Club on short list for Summer Bird's next start
"What if he goes out there and he runs bad in the Goodwood, then we passed up the Jockey Club Gold Cup on a racetrack that he loves?" Ice queried. "I'm not saying that he would or he wouldn't like the (synthetic), he was out there for three months last year from October to January and he seemed to work well over it. He seems to adapt well everywhere he goes, whether it takes him a week to get used to it, but eventually he handles it. Overall I think that if we get him out there in enough time, he'll be used to the track and it won't be an issue."
So far, Ice said the Travers win had sunk in much more quickly than his Belmont Stakes victory nearly three months ago.
"Last night at dinner I was thinking about Birdstone and what he did, and for Summer Bird to accomplish the same thing with five years time in between...I think it sunk in a little faster for the Travers. The horse is a great horse. One thing that I loved (yesterday) was that that (jockey) Kent Desormeaux couldn't pull him up. The outrider had to grab him, Kent wasn't going to pull him up on his own. He's a racehorse -- he loves what he does."
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has not made any plans for Travers runner-up HOLD ME BACK (Giant's Causeway), but said the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita was on the radar for the dark bay.
"I haven't discussed the future with any of the connections," he said. "In my mind, I am always thinking of the Breeders' Cup."
Hold Me Back trailed for about a mile before jockey Julien Leparoux made a six-wide move around the far turn as the colt continued to rally in the middle of the stretch.
"I would have liked to won the whole thing, but the horse ran well," Mott said. "We didn't win, but we were second-best. We were proud of him. He came into the race the right way. Everything was coming together and he didn't let us down."
Conditioner Todd Pletcher said that QUALITY ROAD (Elusive Quality), beaten favorite in the Travers, was "excellent" after his third-place effort in the 1 1/4-mile race.
"I thought he ran very well," Pletcher said. "He didn't exactly get the kind of trip we were hoping to get."
Quality Road did not break well, then was hemmed in on the rail behind OUR EDGE (The Cliff's Edge) and inside of KENSEI (Mr. Greeley) and Summer Bird down the backside before splitting horses to mount a challenge straightening for home. Second at the top of the stretch, he was passed in the final yards by 17-1 longshot Hold Me Back.
"The mile and a quarter had nothing to do with it," Pletcher added. "And he handled (the sloppy track) fine. I think the biggest thing is he wasn't able to get into a high cruising speed."
The Grade 1 winner could have a rematch with Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, according to Pletcher.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Jim Dandy (G2) winner Kensei came back in fine form from his sixth-place finish in the Travers.
"He's a big, strong, beautiful horse," Asmussen commented. "Right now, we'll do the responsible thing; take him back to the track and see how he goes. We'll take a step back, regroup, and go from there. We had a good run with him."
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito reported that Barbaro S. (G3) hero Our Edge, who was eased in the stretch of the Travers, had an eventful outing.
"He lost his left front shoe, either leaving the gate or jumping the first puddle, and grabbed his quarter, both places, left and right," Zito explained. "It was a rough trip. Alan (Garcia) did a good job with him."
As he had in his three previous wins, Our Edge ran with two bar shoes on, according to Zito.
"It was a Catch-20, 22, 21, whatever," Zito said. "Saratoga mud is different. We did the best thing. He won his last three starts with those shoes, so I didn't want to take them off. We'll be OK. We took a big shot. I think he was a live longshot. I'm glad he's in one piece."
Zito added that he was pleased for Summer Bird, a son of Birdstone, whom Zito saddled to victories in both the 2004 Belmont Stakes and Travers.
"It was great the Birdstone won," he said.
Trainer Ian Wilkes experienced the highs and lows of racing within a 36-minute span on Saturday's Travers card. Wilkes picked up his first Grade 1 victory when Capt. Candyman Can (Candy Ride [Arg]) won the King's Bishop (G1) through a disqualification, then watched as WARRIOR'S REWARD (Medaglia d'Oro) managed to get within two lengths of the leader at the quarter-pole before fading to fifth in the Travers.
"I'm just enjoying the win right now, but I feel bad for my other horse," Wilkes said. "(Warrior's Reward) just doesn't want to go that far. I thought he could. I was trying to make him into a classic horse. I thought he had them because he was cruising. Then he stopped. There were no excuses. I had seen everything I wanted. I had a perfect horse coming into the race. Calvin (Borel) gave him a perfect ride. Everything was good."
Now that Wilkes knows Warrior's Reward's distance limitations, he plans to bring the bay colt back to Kentucky and explore their options for the fall.
"Now, I know where I am at with him," Wilkes said. "I'll probably bring him back to one turn. I think he's a miler. He's probably a better one-turn miler."
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