Profiles

Training a Star: Chad Summers Profile #2

Mind Your Biscuits and Joel Rosario winning the Belmont Sprint Championship - Joe Labozzetta/NYRA

Last week, we focused on Chad Summers becoming a successful owner and bloodstock agent before receiving his training license and taking over the duties of his budding star, Mind Your Biscuits. This week, we’ll look at how Summers approaches a new role.

Debuting for his new trainer on February 25, 2017, Biscuits finished second in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint, only a neck behind a front-running Unified. It was the colt’s first race since a short reprieve following a successful 3-year-old campaign in which he won a Grade 1 and a Grade 2, along with finishing second in a Grade 1 and a Grade 3.

“We weren’t 100% cranked up for that race (the Gulfstream Park Sprint),” said Summers. “I love Unified and I love (his trainer) Jimmy Jerkens, but we said after that race, ‘There’s no way that horse is ever going to beat us again.’”

Warmed up and ready to get rolling on his 4-year-old season, Biscuits made the trip to Dubai one month later, breaking from the far outside post and “closing like a freight train,” according to Summers, to take the Group 1, $2,000,000 Golden Shaheen. Not a bad way to get a first career victory as a trainer.

“It’s a storybook ending,” Summers said after the win. “It’s a remarkable horse. I think he is the best sprinter in the country, in the world. He proved it today.”

After Dubai, Summers gave his star a much-deserved rest, keeping a long-term view of Biscuits’ 2017 plans that he hoped would culminate in a rematch with Drefong at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“Our plan (after the Sprint) was that we wanted a Grade 1,” Summers said. “He came out of the Breeders’ Cup so good, and he loves Santa Anita so much, that we went back for the Malibu. The goal was Breeders’ Cup next year, but then I thought, ‘What about Dubai, a $2 million race, the richest in the world for sprinters? We’ll start him back, and if he shows any signs at all that he’s tired, he’s going to the farm for a break.’

“After the Malibu, he walked for a month, and then he came back and he was training great, so we thought, ‘Let’s try and make Dubai.’ Once you win Dubai, that’s when you really go, ‘Okay, now the end goal is the Breeders’ Cup.’”

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Some in the sport thought that Biscuits’ next move after Dubai should have been to try stretching out from 7 furlongs to 8, but Summers fought the temptation in order to do right by his promising speedster.

“There were some people that thought he should go to the Met Mile, since Frosted was able to go last year,” Summers said. “If we went to the Met Mile, I would be concerned about how much horse we have left for the Breeders’ Cup. One of the best races of the year last year was Frosted’s Met Mile, but then at the Breeders’ Cup, he started to fade off a little bit. Keeping all of that in mind, that’s why (Biscuits) went to the farm after Dubai. That’s why he got the break he did.”

Following a 15-week recess, Biscuits resumed training in late May and made his stateside return a victorious one in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship. His win earned him an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a nomination which waives all entry fees and includes a $10,000 travel stipend to ship from New York to Del Mar, California.

As an owner, Summers is relieved about not writing another $45,000 check (which he did last year in order to enter the Breeders’ Cup Sprint). As a trainer, though, it doesn’t make things any easier because he’ll have to balance keeping Biscuits primed at his peak performance without overdoing it.

“At this point, you kind of plot it out, but you kind of don’t, because there are so many other mitigating factors going on,” he said. “We planned out the Belmont Sprint Championship and then the Forego (at Saratoga) or the Pat O’Brien (at Del Mar). At that point, you don’t know – it’ll depend on the horse on what we do and where we go. Nothing’s really etched in stone right now.”

While being a trainer may be new, the unpredictability of the sport is not, but Summers has a plan in place.

“Being flexible, knowing that you have a great team around you that puts the horse first, and having great owners with you that trust in you,” Summers said. “You make decisions collectively. You have Plan A, B, and C.

“When I was working for the Horse Racing Network, we interviewed Mike Smith before the Breeders’ Cup one year. I asked him, ‘What do you do when you come out of the gate?’ He said, ‘Listen, you have Plan A through Z, and if it ends up as Plan Z, then it ends up as Plan Z.’ That’s how we look at it. You point for the Belmont Sprint Championship, you point for the Forego, but whatever happens, happens, and you have to be able to adjust to it. You can’t have tunnel vision.”

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While enjoying a well-deserved rest following his Belmont Sprint Championship victory, Biscuits (and many of his stablemates) shipped to Saratoga to prepare for Summers’ first year at The Spa as a trainer. Biscuits is expected to be put through his first workout either this Friday (July 28) or next, and Summers will build him up in anticipation of the Forego, a Grade 1 race that will cover 7 furlongs on Saturday, August 26.

“We have plenty of time until the last week in August,” he said. “We expect him to improve off this last race. That was his first start in 3 1/2 months. Look for him to have an even bigger performance (in the Forego). He’s kicking down the walls, he’s happy as can be. The whole thing with him is to try and keep him as happy as possible.”

Assuming all is well after the Forego, expect Biscuits to have another long period of rest before the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a decision that the energetic colt might not appreciate in the moment.

“He’s a horse that loves to train, so you don’t want to take too much out of him,” Summers said. “He’s a horse that doesn’t mind running. He’s run 16 times now (in his career), so you know when the Breeders Cup race is, but you also know you have plenty of time right now. The beautiful thing about stakes races is you know the dates, so it’s easier to train.”

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: “New York State of Mind: Chad Summers Profile #3

Index of all profiles:

Finding a Star: Chad Summers Profile #1

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