By Mary Rampellini www.drf.com
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – K.K. Jayaraman said Tuesday morning he will be moving 3-year-old champion Summer Bird to the barn of Tim Ritchey and that he is parting ways with trainer Tim Ice. Both horsemen are based at Oaklawn Park.
Summer Bird was in the process of being moved to Ritchey’s barn at 10:45 a.m. Central on Tuesday.
“Im looking forward to training him,” said Ritchey. “Obviously, he s a very, very good racehorse, and hopefully, I can do as good a job as Tim Ice did. I m thankful to Dr. J for the opportunity.”
Ice said he has been informed that he is being relieved of his duties as the trainer of Summer Bird as well as 24 other horses owned by K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman. Ice said the loss of the horses will reduce his stable from 31 head to six.
“It puts me almost out of business,” he said.
The other Jayaraman horses are being sent to a number of trainers in Hot Springs, among them Ritchey, who trained champion Afleet Alex, Ron Moquett, Terry Brennan, Steve Wren, and Steve Hobby.
“I’m parting as friends with Tim,” said K.K. Jayaraman.
Ice said he believes a slow start to the meet, where he is 2 for 15, and a colt suffering a condylar fracture during a morning workout Sunday at Oaklawn led to the Jayaraman’s decision. K.K. Jayaraman said he feels there has been a breakdown in communication between he and Ice. Jayaraman, who has trained in the past himself, has had a number of trainers through the years.
“I’m just another trainer in a long line he’s hired and fired,” Ice said. “But I do have empty stalls, and I’m looking for new clients.”
Ice, 35, was in his first year of training last season, when he sent out Summer Bird to win the Belmont Stakes, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup en route to the title of 3-year-old champion. The horse sustained a condylar fracture in late November while training in Japan for the Japan Cup Dirt, and has been rehabbing at Oaklawn.
“I’m going to miss Summer Bird,” Ice said. “He means the world to me. I hope Summer Bird goes on and is Horse of the Year. He’s been very good to me. I can only hope for the best for him.”
Summer Bird is expected to resume training in mid-March, said Jayaraman.
Ice said he will be attending the Ocala Breeders’ Sales 2-year-olds in training auction in Ocala, Fla., on Feb. 16 in order to seek new clients.