Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Bird, Papa Clem Work for Haskell

By Steve Haskin

Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Papa Clem had their first works over the Monmouth track July 6 in preparation for the $1-million Haskell Invitational Aug. 2.

Summer Bird, who arrived at Monmouth July 3 following a van ride from Louisiana Downs, with a stopover at Churchill Downs, breezed five furlongs in 1:04 2/5 under exercise rider Leo Atempo, as trainer Tim Ice watched from the clocker’s stand. The son of Birdstone was timed galloping out six furlongs in 1:17 2/5.

Summer Bird’s first work at Belmont Park prior to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) did not go according to plan, but Ice felt this work, although slow, was a good introduction to the Monmouth surface. Ice felt he got a lot out of it judging by the way he galloped out and how much he was blowing coming off the track.

“He doesn’t normally work fast anyway, but he did gallop out strong,” Ice said. “And Leo could hardly get him pulled up. We weren’t looking for anything spectacular, especially since he just got here. We just wanted to give him something to let him blow out a little bit.”

As Summer Bird walked off the track blowing noticeably, Ice said. “He got something out of it,” Ice said. “We still have three more works planned before the Haskell, and we’ll let him do a little bit more.”

Back at the barn, Ice said, “Leo was blowing more than he was. He went all the way around to the three-eighths pole before he was able to get him pulled up.”

About an hour and a half earlier, Gary Stute sent Papa Clem out for a five-furlong breeze with jockey Elvis Trujillo aboard. Although Stute was looking for about 1:00, Papa Clem, who has a history of doing what he feels like in the morning, had other ideas, going in 1:03 2/5 after an opening quarter in :26.

But Stute, like Ice, was not dismayed in the slightest. Several days earlier, Papa Clem did not want to train at all.

“I got a real good seven-furlong work in him before he left, so he really didn’t have to do too much today,” Stute said. “Other than the Preakness, he always fires, so I never worry too much about his works. I could tell he was going off real slow the first quarter. That main thing was to just get a feel of the track.”

Papa Clem is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Long Branch Stakes (gr. III) as a prep for the Haskell.

Other Haskell horses on the grounds are Big Drama, Atomic Rain, and Bunker Hill. The Derek Ryan-trained colt will substitute for stablemate Musket Man, who is out for the year with a bone bruise.

The key figure is Rachel Alexandra, who is a possibility for the Haskell. If the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro runs, it is doubtful David Fawkes will run Big Drama.

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