In previous weeks, we looked at how Chad Summers has progressed from being a successful owner and bloodstock agent to embarking on the path of a trainer, which meant first finding a star and then training a star. His next challenge? Growing his barn.
When Summers took out his training license at the beginning of 2017, he was already eager to begin expanding his operation, but champion colt Mind Your Biscuits required his utmost attention as he prepared to win the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.
“I had some commitments before Dubai, but I didn’t want to take any (more) in until I got back from Dubai because I knew I was going to be there for 19 days,” Summers said. “It wasn’t fair to the new owners and new clients to take horses from them and not be able to see them.”
After returning from his successful overseas trip, Summers began collecting clients faster than a forest collects shade, quickly booming from a small organization to one of the larger barns stationed at Saratoga this summer.
“Are we a small stable now? Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “It’s crazy to say (that we’re a small barn), because there are great trainers who have been at this for a long time and would do anything for the opportunity to have a barn full of 40, but we’re small in the fact that a lot of our horses are unproven, they’re unraced, they’re untested.”
While he sees growth as a key to his success and survival as a trainer, Summers also realizes that he can’t let it get too big, too quickly, lest he stretch his resources too thin. For this reason, he brought almost his entire organization with him to Saratoga.
“The key is having people you can trust,” he said. “You can’t be everywhere at once. You have great staff that know our program, but it is still nerve-wracking. That’s why all of the horses came to Saratoga, so we can see them every day. We’re at the stage now with these 2-year-olds that some of these horses are getting ready for big races. We want to make sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned.”
While Biscuits remains his only big success to date, Summers knows that he’ll need to develop his growing crop of horses, especially the juveniles. It’s not just Biscuits that will get him to the next level as a trainer.
“Biscuits is great and we love him representing our stable, but (our future is in) some of these 2-year-olds that haven’t run yet, or some of these horses that have come in from great trainers and just need fine-tuning and putting the finishing touches on them,” Summers said. “We’ve got 26 (juveniles) right now, so it’s a matter of trying to figure out who’s next in line. We’re certainly going to have some opportunities to point for the big races. You want to win, you want to make sure you hit the board, and you want to give the best possible effort you can for all those horses. That’s what we strive for. Hopefully, we’re going to have a really big fall ahead of us.”
Zayat Stables, who previously owned such stars as Bodemeister and the Triple Crown-winning American Pharoah, recently sent four youngsters to the Summers barn. One potential standout, Egyptian Prince, is a homebred son of another Zayat star, Pioneerof the Nile. The 2-year-old colt turned in back-to-back bullets (:47.86 over 4 furlongs on August 7 and :59.66 over 5 furlongs on August 15) in his last two workouts.
“When you’re given an opportunity (to work with a group like the Zayats), it’s really a blessing,” Summers said. “Egyptian Prince is a really nice horse. We might look to be really aggressive with him first time out, depending on how he progresses. He’s a horse with a real promising future.”
Summers is also eager to debut a series of New York-bred runners from his barn at the end of the Saratoga meet. They include Our Hope Diamond, a homebred filly from SF Racing; Foolish Ghost, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft; and Shamrock Kid, a son out of multiple Saratoga race winner Dublin.
Despite the high hopes that he carries for the untested juveniles under his care, he’s quick to note that they remain just that. Nothing in the sport is certain and nothing is a given.
“With babies, it’s so much different,” Summers said. “One week, they work great; one week, they work bad; one week, they’re so-so. One week, they’re sound; the next week, they’re hurt. They’re beautiful, majestic animals, but they have these small, little legs, and you’re asking them to do a lot from 2 years old-on. That’s why we don’t push our 2-year-olds. You see where Biscuits is now, a lot of that is due to the job that (former trainer) Roderick Rodriguez did with us in getting him to the races the right way.”
While Summers’ main focus remains keeping Biscuits on track for his best possible effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at the end of the year, his long-term goal is continuing to cultivate the juveniles under his care.
“We should be active in the baby races towards the end of August, beginning of September, so we’ll go from trying to get Biscuits to the Breeders’ Cup to trying to get Egyptian Prince to the Kentucky Derby.”
Stay tuned next week and all year long as racingdudes.com follows Chad Summers and Mind Your Biscuits on their quest for vengeance in the Grade 1, $1,500,000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 4, 2017.
Next week’s story: “Forego Showdown: Chad Summers Profile #6” when we preview Biscuits’ long-awaited rematch with Drefong.