Trainer Chad Summers is not afraid to think outside the box.
That kind of thinking led him to see potential in Mind Your Biscuits when others did not. He purchased the horse for $30,000 and oversaw the horse’s development as the son of Posse became the richest New York-bred in history with more than $4.2 million in earnings.
He hopes that kind of thinking will allow Mind Your Biscuits, who has proven his elite ability as sprinter by winning the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Dubai Gulf News each of the last two years, to capture the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Churchill Downs in his first try at 1 ¼ miles.
Summers could not be more optimistic.
“I’ve handicapped the race 10,000 times. I’ve watched tape on every horse in the race, including the also-eligibles,” Summers said. “We’re very confident going into this race. I couldn’t be more confident, the way he’s training, and the way the field shapes up.”
With a breeding deal already in place with Shadai Farm in Japan, the trainer is eager to watch the horse add to his legacy by showing he can maintain his dazzling speed at the classic distance. After Mind Your Biscuits blazed a track record of 1:10.12 for the six-furlong Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on March 31, Summers began the process of stretching out the 5-year-old.
Mind Your Biscuits missed by a nose to Bee Jersey in the June 9 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, then placed second at a mile and an eighth in the Aug. 4 Whitney Stakes for jockey Joel Rosario when Diversify shook loose on the lead at Saratoga.
Summers, who is part of Mind Your Biscuits’ ownership group as well, has brought a laser focus to the Classic since then. A key element to his strategy was to arrive at Churchill Downs well ahead of the competition. He wanted to have a race over a track that some horses do not handle well, especially those unfamiliar with it.
The Grade 3 Lukas Classic on Sept. 29 became the target. Mind Your Biscuits responded exactly the way the connections hoped he would in that contest, also run at a mile and an eighth. With Tyler Gaffalione aboard for the first time, the battle-hardened Biscuits sat in striking distance in third in the early going before powering into the lead as soon as Gaffalione prompted him and drawing off by 4 ¾ lengths.
“He had to do what he did in that race for us to consider the next step, going on to the Classic,” he said.
Mind Your Biscuits ran third behind Roy H and Imperial Hint in last year’s Sprint at Del Mar. He placed second to Drefong in the 2016 Sprint at Santa Anita, both times with Rosario in the irons. Rosario will be aboard 5-2 favorite Accelerate for the Classic. Gaffalione will ride 6-1 Mind Your Biscuits back in the Classic as part of a field of 14. The Classic also includes two well-regarded entrants from trainer Bob Baffert, 4-year-old West Coast and 3-year-old McKinzie. Both of those horses have had one prep following extended layoffs,
“I’d rather go for $6 million in the Classic against Accelerate and West Coast than for $2 million against Promises Fulfilled and Imperial Hint in the Sprint,” Summers said, noting two of the prime Sprint contenders.
Either way, he knows his time with Mind Your Biscuits is growing short. The horse is heading to Japan once he recovers from the Classic. Plans call for him to make one more start there before entering the breeding shed.
“It’s going to be tough,” Summer said of parting with such a career-changing horse. “He means a lot to me. I’ve been part of him the last four years. He’s like a son to me.”