When Dan Summers graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2010, the last place in the world he expected to be seven years later was in a winner’s circle in Dubai.
The 28-year-old along with his father M. Scott and brother Chad, co-own Mind Your Biscuits, the 4-year-old son of Posse, who took home the $2 million Golden Shaheen, against some of the world’s best sprinters last March.
That race on Dubai World Cup night cemented Biscuits’ status as a star sprinter and the Summers crew knew at this point that they had something special in their barn.
“To win that race was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my short 28-year-old life,” said Summers. “There’s no way that any moment could top that the rest of my life. And I’ve already let my girlfriend know that if we ever had kids that would still be second to that win in Dubai.”
Mind Your Biscuit’s career earnings heading into next Saturday’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are north of $2.2 million.
What makes it all the more incredible is that the three family members along with J Racing Stable bought the colt privately in the fall of 2014 for a paltry sum of $30,000. Before last year’s Breeders’ Cup (BC), they sold a quarter-interest in the colt to Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains partnership and Michael Kisper.
Summers’ introduction to racing was at a young age, going to breakfast at Belmont or spending a week in Saratoga with his family going to the races.
Older brother Chad, who also happens to train the New York-bred, remembered those trips fondly with Dan, when reached by phone at his temporary barn at Del Mar. “We’ve always been very, very close. Growing up, the track was something that bonded us all together.”
Upon graduation from UB, Dan earned a job with the New York Racing Association on Long Island, and has worked his way up to Facilities and Operations Manager, overseeing the three tracks on the New York circuit.
“I travel with the circus, as they say,” said the younger Summers. “I go wherever the live racing is. I joke with my friends that I haven’t seen a beach in 11 years, spending my summers in Buffalo for four years and Saratoga for the next seven.”
Chad, 32, is proud of his younger brother and was extolling his virtues on how far he’s come at such a young age. “He’s a young ambassador in the sport. He’s someone who takes a lot of pride in trying to grow the sport as well. Working his way up the ranks at NYRA, I couldn’t be prouder of him. To be where he’s at in the industry at 28 years old is really a remarkable thing.”
The trainer joked that he loves his brother’s passion and exuberance about the game. Dan was convinced that the colt’s name should be Mind Your Biscuits after hearing Kasey Musgraves’ hit song Biscuits. Chad would get a kick out of it when Dan would tweet at her whenever Mind Your Biscuits hit the track.
Next Saturday’s challenge will be against Drefong, last year’s Sprint champion, who runs for the powerful Bob Baffert barn. Drefong has been Mind Your Biscuits’ kryptonite having lost all three of their head-to-head encounters, including last year’s BC Sprint, where he finished third.
However, this year’s Sprint looks to have a tad more speed in it with Takaful and Roy H likely to put some early pressure on last year’s champ.
“It looks like there is a little more speed in the race this year,” said the younger Summers. “Every other time we faced Drefong, we’ve hoped somebody would go with him. It’s going to be a great day, we’re not going to change our style, we’ll be coming from behind, hoping the speed horses come back to us.”
The race will likely determine the year-end championship award for the Sprint division, with Drefong’s only race thus far this year being a win in the Forego at Saratoga. Adding a Sprint victory to the Dubai win and the Belmont Sprint Cup would likely solidify the championship for Mind Your Biscuits.
As Buffalo’s rooting interest in the Breeders’ Cup, the younger Summers enjoyed his time in the Queen City while attending UB. He loves to follow his alma mater in football and basketball evidenced by his UB Bull twitter avatar.
“I feel like a Buffalo citizen, even though I was only there for four years. I’m a Bills fan, I’m a Sabres fan and I’m a Bulls fan. For some reason, I love the city.”
Chad didn’t mind having his brother Dan at this end of the state while he was getting his start in the training ranks. “There were times when he would drive over to Finger Lakes from Buffalo just to watch my horses. He’s always been my biggest supporter and biggest fan,” the trainer said.
For Mind Your Biscuits, racing’s biggest stage is up next where beating his rival Drefong on a track he’s never run over would be a huge accomplishment for Team Summers.
Outside of barn BB at Del Mar, Chad joked that it doesn’t stand for Bob Baffert, but will be a daily reminder for his team of whom the target is on.
“I love the fact that we’re able to embark on this journey together and hopefully take down the big boys. We still look at ourselves as the underdog. We might have made $2.2 million, but me, my dad and my little brother we're not really people like the sheiks, we’re just everyday people with a really good horse.”
As the Musgraves song goes, “mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.