Mind Your Biscuits is so versatile that he could be a major player in three Breeders’ Cup races, ranging from the 1 1/4-mile Classic to the Dirt Mile to the six-furlong Sprint.
After Mind Your Biscuits won the 1 1/8-mile Lukas Classic last Saturday at Churchill Downs, trainer and co-owner Chad Summers now must decide whether to stretch him out even farther in the $6 million Classic on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs or to cut him back in distance.
Summers this week was weighing the pros and cons of each race. He seemed inclined to try the Classic but wanted to consider every possible factor before committing.
“I want to watch the preps,” Summers said, noting that top sprinters Roy H and Limousine Liberal were scheduled to run this weekend. “And I want to see if Roaring Lion,” Summers added, referring to the star European colt who is an outside possibility for the Classic, “goes there.
“The pace of the Dirt Mile and Sprint might be a disadvantage to us. The Classic should have a more honest pace. The one horse I don’t want to run against is Imperial Hint,” he said, referring to the likely Sprint favorite. “He’s a freak.”
The biggest negative regarding the Classic, Summers said, “is the $150,000 entry fee.”
“He didn’t win a Win and You’re In race, so if you’re not in the top four, you lose money.”
The reward may well outweigh the risk. First prize in the Classic is $3.3 million, and the Classic is the only chance Mind Your Biscuits will have to run 1 1/4 miles before his scheduled retirement to begin stud duty next year in Japan at co-owner Shadai Farm. Mind Your Biscuits already has banked $4,279,566.
Mind Your Biscuits, 5, is currently the co-third choice at 8-1 on the Classic ante-post line set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper.
The Lukas Classic was chosen as a prep to see if Mind Your Biscuits liked the track, and jockey Tyler Gaffalione was instructed by Summers to let Mind Your Biscuits gallop out an additional furlong after the race. As dress rehearsals go, it could not have been better. Mind Your Biscuits got a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.
“I think the performance that night justified his ability to go two turns,” Summers said. “Part of the strategy was making sure he had a good gallop-out. The way he did, it leaves me with a lot of confidence he can go a mile and a quarter.”
Summers also is hoping that shipping to Churchill Downs, and remaining there through the Breeders’ Cup, will be an edge.
“We’re trying to turn it into a home-court advantage,” he said.
It’s rare to find a horse as effective at as many distances as Mind Your Biscuits. In his 24 starts, he twice has won the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen, was second in both the Met Mile (which he lost by a nose) and the Cigar Mile, and was second in the nine-furlong Whitney prior to the Lukas Classic. At the past two Breeders’ Cups, he was second (2016) and third (2017) in the Sprint. If he were to win the Classic, he would have won Grade 1 or Group 1 races ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/4 miles in the same calendar year.
What other older runners have had that range of success in top races on dirt in the same year over the past 50 years?
Forego won graded stakes from seven furlongs to two miles in 1974 and from seven furlongs to 1 1/2 miles in 1975. The brief list also includes Ack Ack, who in 1971 won stakes from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, and Precisionist, who won the six-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the 10-furlong Strub in 1985.
Dr. Fager’s celebrated 1968 Horse of the Year campaign had dirt wins ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, as did Spectacular Bid in 1980, Ghostzapper in 2004, and Black Tie Affair, whose 1991 season culminated with a win the Classic, run that year at Churchill Downs.
In other Classic developments:
◗ Seeking the Soul, who won the Ack Ack at Churchill Downs on Saturday, will join the field, trainer Dallas Stewart said Wednesday. Seeking the Soul won the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs last fall.
“He’s a great horse, ran great, loves the track. We’re looking at the Classic,” Stewart said. “He’s won a Grade 1 over the track already. I think that’s what we’re doing.”
◗ A majority interest in Axelrod, most recently second in the Pennsylvania Derby, has been sold to Phoenix Thoroughbreds by original owner Slam Dunk Racing, which will retain a minority interest in the colt, according to Nick Cosato, who heads the Slam Dunk partnership.
Going forward, Axelrod will be managed by Phoenix and race in Phoenix’s colors, Cosato said.
Axelrod won the Indiana Derby and Smarty Jones prior to the Pennsylvania Derby. He is based at Santa Anita with trainer Michael McCarthy, who said recently that Axelrod has been under consideration for several races, including the Classic.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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