Summer Bird isn't the other Bird anymore.
The Belmont Stakes winner came charging off the far turn and splashed his way to victory in the $1 million Travers Stakes at rain-soaked Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.
Now that Summer Bird is the only 3-year-old male with two Grade 1 wins, the son of Birdstone almost certainly moves to the head of his class. Of course, Rachel Alexandra is No. 1 3-year-old filly and leading contender for Horse of the Year.
But Summer Bird is the word in the boy's world _ ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who missed the Travers as he recovers from throat surgery, and ahead of Quality Road, who finished third in the slop as the 3-2 favorite, five lengths behind the winner.
"To me, he is the 3-year-old champion now," a delighted winning trainer Tim Ice said. "They can call him the other Bird if they want, but he's won the Belmont and the Travers. Take it from there."
Like father, like son, too.
In completing the Belmont-Travers double, Summer Bird joins his sire, Birdstone, who did it in 2004. Summer Bird is the 30th horse to win both races.
"Winning this race means as much as winning the Belmont," Ice said. "For my colt to win the Belmont and come back and win the Travers like his sire means a lot."
A crowd of 34,221 braved showers all day for the biggest racing card of the six-week season, capped by the 1 1/4-mile Midsummer Derby.
Summer Bird, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, came into the race off a runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2. For two weeks, Ice had been saying his colt was ready for a big race, and he surely delivered.
Quality Road, who would have been the Derby favorite before he was sidelined with hoof issues, won the Amsterdam Stakes earlier in the month in his return. But he wasn't quite ready for the Travers: He bucked jockey John Velazquez off before entering the starting gate, was squeezed between horses at the start and finished third in the seven-horse field.
Charitable Man was fourth, followed by Warrior's Reward, Kensei and Our Edge.
"There was nothing I could do, but he came back and got himself back into the race," Velazquez said.
Summer Bird returned $6.80, $4.30 and $2.70 as the second betting choice at nearly 3-1, while Hold Me Back $12.40 and $5.30. Quality Road paid $2.50.
Summer Bird broke strongly from the No. 6 post, and was four wide and running third behind early leader Our Edge, with Jim Dandy winner Kensei and Quality Road also in pursuit.
Leaving the far turn, Summer Bird launched a rally and closed the gap quickly on Kensei, who had taken the lead. He then took control nearing the quarter pole and pulled away for his third victory in seven career starts.
The winning time was 2:02.83.
As he crossed the finish line, Desormeaux patted Summer Bird three times with his right hand. He said Summer Bird ran like he did in winning the Belmont.
"It's the ultimate feeling, having a horse on his fingertips, being on the bridle, not shoving on his neck, trying to make him keep up," Desormeaux said. "That was the exact situation I had in the Belmont. ... When I turned him loose, it was deja vu today."
The Hall of Fame rider also said he didn't think Summer Bird liked the track in New Jersey.
"I didn't believe for a second that Summer Bird enjoyed the going _ he was completely different. It was sealed and very fast," Desormeaux said. "Today the track is a different track.There's some depth underneath his feet, it acts like a cushion and he enjoys that, I think the real Summer Bird was able to strut his stuff not in New Jersey but in New York."
On the undercard:
_ Capt. Candyman Can was declared the winner of the $300,000 King's Bishop Stakes after first-place finisher Vineyard Haven was disqualified by the stewards for interference in the stretch. Vineyard Haven, ridden by Alan Garcia, bumped Capt. Candyman Can several times as they dueled for the lead.
_ Music Note ($13.60) outdueled Indian Blessing in the stretch and splashed her way to a 5 1/4-length victory in the $300,000 Ballerina Stakes for older fillies and mares. Informed Decision, who had a five-race winning streak, was third.
_ Salve Germania ($50.50), the longest shot in the field at 24-1, finished with a rush and nipped 9-5 favorite Rutherinne by a nose to win the $200,000 Balston Spa on a soft turf course.
_ Sara Louise ($6.30), the last horse to defeat Rachel Alexandra, made her 3-year-old debut with a two-length victory over Bold Union in the six-furlong, $110,000 Victory Ride Stakes.
FINISH LINES: Rachel Alexandra will run next Saturday against older boys in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes. ... Jockeys who rode in the Travers pledged 10 percent of their earnings to establish a fund for 23-year-old apprentice rider Michael Straight, who suffered spinal injuries, including four broken vertebrae, in a spill during a race at Arlington Park on Aug. 26.