“He might have been a hair higher today coming in here, just a little more amped up,” Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley said, “but overall he was the same horse I led up in the Derby. He ran a great race and just got beat, and you have to accept that and go on.”
Summer Bird, meanwhile, looked almost regal before the start. The chestnut son of 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone - yes, the same sire as Mine That Bird - took the rail route usually the trademark of a Borel ride before breaking outside and into the clear.
“The colt broke like a rocket,” Desormeaux said. “He absolutely dragged me around the race track. I had an armchair ride until I found some room. I found room.”
Summer Bird won the Belmont in just his fifth career start. Owned by Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, the colt did not run as a 2-year-old. In his third start, he was a closing third in the Arkansas Derby and came back and was a closing sixth in the Derby - 13 lengths behind Mine That Bird.
Summer Bird, trained by the recently licensed Tim Ice, returned $25.80. $9.30 and $4.70. Dunkirk paid $5.40 and $3.60, and Mine That Bird returned $2.60 to show.
Ice seemed stunned by his colt’s accomplishment, which came on the trainer’s 35th birthday. As he walked into the postrace news conference, he was serenaded with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
“Right now it’s just unexplainable,” he said. “If my career goes nowhere from here, I’ve got a Belmont win.”
Once again, the “Test of the Champion,” prevented a little Triple Crown history. While a Triple Crown wasn’t on the line for a horse, Borel was certain he’d pull off an unprecedented Triple of his own.
But for now, the Belmont remains a race usually reserved for long shots. The favorite has won only six of the last 30 runnings of the longest and most grueling of the Triple Crown races.
“He was tired. He was used, but he looked all right,” Woolley said. “We’re a little down, disappointed right now. He ran a great race. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ll give him a good eight weeks off and let him freshen up.”
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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