Tim Ice is out and Tim Ritchey in as the new trainer of Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird.
Ice was fired as trainer of the 3-year-old champion colt and 24 other horses owned by Drs. K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman. The owners cited "lack of communication" as the reason for the change.
K.K. Jayaraman said Tuesday from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., that Ritchey will take over handling Summer Bird, who is recovering from leg surgery and expected to return to training in six weeks. Ritchey trained 2005 Preakness Stakes and Belmont winner Afleet Alex.
The 35-year-old Ice was in his first full year of training in 2009. Summer Bird had a sensational summer, winning the Belmont _ the final leg of the Triple Crown_ the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The son of Birdstone ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby, and capped his '09 campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Ice spoke as he watched Summer Bird and the rest of the Jayaraman's horses being moved to Ritchey's and several other trainers' barns at Oaklawn Park.
"It's very sad to watch them walking out the shedrow," he said. "I felt like I was doing the best job I could, but we just had a difference of opinion. He obviously pays me to do a job and if he feels like they are not performing the way he feels they should he has the right to move them."
Ice said his stable has been reduced to six horses, but he plans to rebuild with a goal of relocating to New York.
"I will continue to have a public stable and this basically gives me the opportunity where I can meet more clients and build my stable back up," Ice said.
Moving star horses to another trainer is not unusual.
Last year, Edward P. Evans took all of his horses _ 2009 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby hopeful Quality Road included _ from trainer Jimmy Jerkens and sent them to Todd Pletcher. Quality Road missed the Triple Crown races with an injury but is back in top form after winning the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park last weekend.
Summer Bird gave Ice a national profile, and the trainer is grateful.
"Summer Bird means the world to me," he said. "I would love for him to make a full recovery, and the new trainer is getting a very nice horse. He's brought my career a long way, and he'll always forever have a place in my memory."
Among other trainers receiving horses from the Jayaraman's are Ron Moquette and Terry Brennan.
The Jayaramans have a reputation for changing trainers. By his own count, K.K. Jayaraman says he's had "82 different public trainers and seven private trainers," including himself.
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