Jockey Kent Desormeaux, left, aboard Summer Bird, celebrates after crossing the finish line ahead of Mine That Bird, middle, and Dunkirk to win the Belmont Stakes.
NEW YORK - Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird and the next three finishers in the final leg of the Triple Crown came out of the race in good shape and will be rested before coming back for a summer season.
Where or when they might meet again remains unclear.
Summer Bird's trainer Tim Ice said Sunday that his colt could go the Saratoga route, running in the Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 1 followed by the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29.
"If we go, like we did for the Belmont, we'll go well ahead of time, ship up a month before the Jim Dandy," Ice said of possible Saratoga plans. "People tell me you have to go to two places, Del Mar and Saratoga. I've been to Del Mar. To take a horse like this and go to Saratoga would be amazing."
Dunkirk was second, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was third and Charitable Man was fourth in Saturday's Belmont.
The next big stakes races for 3-year-olds are the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2 and the $1 million Travers.
Mine That Bird's trainer, Chip Woolley, was not tipping his hand. He said the goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic in Santa Anita on Nov. 7, so "we'll see what fits his schedule best. I'd rather keep him on dirt and against other 3-year-olds. It may be a couple of days before we make a hard decision, and we'll definitely for sure give him eight weeks off now."
Woolley said the gelding handled the three races just fine. Mine That Bird won the Derby by 6¾ lengths, finished second in the Preakness and ran third in the Belmont.
"He feels awful good this morning," Woolley said. "Awful bright and bouncing. He's ready to get out and go do something."
Unlike his trainer, Woolley admitted the strain of hobbling through the Triple Crown on crutches with a broken leg finally took a toll.
"Talk about whipped," Woolley said. "About halfway through dinner last night I just said 'Guys, I'm done, and I'm not that type at all. I couldn't believe how I hit a wall last night. I never thought I'd be sitting here sort of down about running third in the Belmont. This has been a lifetime dream."
Mine That Bird will be flown to Churchill Downs today and train there while Woolley sorts out the future. Summer Bird also will be on the flight, the first leg of a trip to Louisiana Downs.
Ice, meanwhile, still is having a difficult time believing he's a Belmont winner.
"This whole thing is unbelievable," he said. "Watching the horse come down the stretch was like an out-of-body experience."
Dunkirk and Charitable Man are based at Belmont Park and will remain there until resuming their campaigns.
Dunkirk bounced back nicely, said trainer Todd Pletcher, even though the striking gray colt suffered muscle cramps after setting the pace in the Belmont.
"He put in a big effort and was tired after the race," Pletcher said. "His energy levels seem to be up. He was bright and alert this morning. I was proud of his determination."
The Travers is the long-range goal.
"The question is how we are going to get there," Pletcher said. "It's going to be either the Jim Dandy or the Haskell."
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Charitable Man suffered some minor nicks in the race but was fine otherwise. McLaughlin will point him toward the Jim Dandy or the Haskell.