Mind Your Biscuits has developed into a multiple grade 1-winning force in the sprint division for many reasons, one of which is the understanding by his connections that they occasionally have to do things on his terms.
The son of Posse has shown an affinity for rap and hip-hop during his morning walks. He will demand the obligatory carrot or mint, or a dozen. The most crucial time his needs must be heeded, however, is when he is acting like he needs to run pronto.
Trainer Chad Summers has been getting that vibe from the 5-year-old chestnut of late—hence, his presence in a somewhat unexpected spot for his seasonal bow.
Mind Your Biscuits, an Eclipse Award finalist for champion male sprinter, will make his 2018 debut Feb. 9 in the third race on Gulfstream Park's card, a seven-furlong allowance optional-claiming test that has also lured graded stakes winner One Liner out of his near year-long layoff.
After capturing the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (G1) in scintillating fashion in March of 2017, a return trip to Meydan to defend that title is the first major objective Summers has for Mind Your Biscuits in what he hopes goes down as a championship campaign this year.
Trying to decide where to start his hard-knocking runner, Summers considered shipping to Laurel Park for the General George Stakes (G3) Feb. 17 or waiting for the March 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3). As much as the idea of putting his charge on a van for 14 hours for a grade 3 was not appealing, neither was the idea of trying to keep Mind Your Biscuits on the ground until March. Thanks to the creativity in the Gulfstream Park condition book, Summers gets a suitable kickoff point for his first graded stakes winner, while still being able to run out of his own stall.
"It was one of those things where we were in a little bit of no man's land," Summers explained. "We had some options about going to Maryland for the General George obviously for a lot more money—and probably an easier field—or wait until the Gulfstream Park Sprint which wasn't until March 3. And the idea ultimately of the ship to Maryland where the weather can be unpredictable, it didn't seem like it was worth the risk long-term."
"He was just training so forwardly, I didn't want to wait until March 3 and have to keep breezing him like that. He's a competitive horse, he loves what he does and he'll get a lot out of the race on Friday, which is the goal. The goal of this race is to start the 2018 campaign that will hopefully end in a championship."
When Mind Your Biscuits returned from his Dubai trip and followed it up with a 3 1/2-length win in the Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) in July, he certainly looked like the one to beat for year-end accolades. His last three outings didn't break his way, however, as he ran sixth in the Forego Stakes (G1), third in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and second in the Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) while eventual champion Roy H surged to the divisional forefront.
"I take the blunt share of the blame on (the Forego)," Summers said. "I shouldn't have run him. He wasn't acting like himself and I kind of had an inkling of that beforehand. I ran him thinking 'Oh, he's a racehorse, he'll overcome this.' But he showed that he wasn't sitting on a big race.
"After that, it wasn't necessarily that we weren't good enough, I think it was the circumstance of the (Breeders' Cup) of being as far back as we were on a track with that short of a stretch. If we were a little bit closer as we'd hoped, and as we had talked about ahead of time, I think it's a different race. Fortunately, that's why we run the race and we'll hopefully have the chance to redeem ourselves this year."
Friday's test for Mind Your Biscuits is an allowance race in name only. One Liner, from the barn of seven-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, is unbeaten in three starts including his victory in the 2017 Southwest Stakes (G3). The son of Into Mischief has been sidelined since that outing, but does own a win over the Gulfstream main track, having captured a six-furlong test there in January of 2017.
Graded stakes-placed Conquest Windycity is also in Friday's five-horse field.
Depending on how his season opener goes, Summers said he would consider giving Mind Your Biscuits one more start before Dubai but, ultimately, would do whatever the chestnut tells him.
"Our goal is Dubai. How we get there is up to him," Summers said. "We have the option of the Gulfstream Park Sprint ... there are a lot of different options out there. Whatever we do it will be with March 31 squarely in mind."