December 15, 2018

Mind Your Biscuits has Breeders’ Cup options after passing two-turn test in Lukas Classic

Mind Your Biscuits romped home an easy winner of the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs on September 29, 2018, under jockey Tyler Gaffalione (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Far and away the class of the field in Saturday night’s $200,000 Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs, 6-5 favorite Mind Your Biscuits had another question to answer: could the one-turn artist negotiate 1 1/8 miles? Well enough to entertain the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) back over the same track November 3?

It took 1:48.64 for Mind Your Biscuits to answer in the affirmative, giving trainer and co-owner Chad Summers three Breeders’ Cup options for the world class sprinter/miler.

“I’m still going to consider him for all three races,” Summers said Sunday, alluding to the obvious choices of the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and Dirt Mile (G1) in addition to the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

“I just want to keep my options open. The owners (Shadai Farm, J Stables, Head of Plains Partners, M. Scott Summers, Daniel Summers, and Michael Kisber) and I will come up with a plan but we are in a spot right now that we don’t have a ‘Win & You’re In’ entry for the Classic. That’s going to cost $150,000 to enter the race.

“While we’ve won a lot of money with the horse, it’s still a big chunk of change. I think we can definitely get the distance for the Classic; we proved that last night. We’re just going to have to wait and see.”

Mind Your Biscuits didn’t have his stamina stretched in a moderately run race. The all-time richest New York-bred took a fierce hold before relaxing for new rider Tyler Gaffalione. Racing between rivals stalking Flowers for Lisa through fractions of :23.73 and :48.09, he moved into a clear second at the six-furlong split in 1:12.27, and put him away entering the stretch. Mind Your Biscuits drew off under his own power, with Gaffalione hand-riding him to a 4 3/4-length decision.

The final time was more than a second off Victory Gallop’s track record of 1:47.28, but according to Churchill publicity, Mind Your Biscuits nearly equaled Fort Larned’s stakes record (from 2013) of 1:48.58.

“This horse is so classy,” Gaffalione said. “I’m thankful for Chad (Summers) for letting me ride. This horse was very impressive tonight and going into the Breeders’ Cup in great shape. We sat a perfect trip and when I asked him to run he responded right away and finished well.”

British shipper Toast of New York, whose circuitous tale was told ahead of the Pegasus World Cup (G1), ran an encouraging second as a new gelding. Sidelined for three years after his near-miss in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and back in training after a stint at stud, he made only the third start of his improbable comeback – and first since his Pegasus flop. The Jamie Osborne charge offered a solid rally out wide to head rail-skimming Honorable Duty.

“He ran well,” jockey Julien Leparoux said of the seven-year-old. “I was very pleased with his effort. Even though he was getting a little tired in the stretch he was still trying hard to pass horses. It was a good race overall.”

“I’d say that’s not too shabby after not running for so long,” Osborne commented. “He was a bit rusty but that’s to be expected. I think it warrants us to stick around a little longer here in Kentucky. Hopefully he’s all right after the race and we will figure out our plan regarding the Breeders’ Cup.”

Flowers for Lisa wound up fourth, followed by Rated R Superstar, Remembering Rita, Term of Art, and the tailed-off Breaking Lucky.

Mind Your Biscuits now boasts $4,279,566 in earnings from his 24-8-10-3 line. The five-year-old son of Posse is best known as the reigning two-time winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on World Cup night, but he’s also landed the 2016 Malibu (G1) and Amsterdam (G2) along with the 2017 Belmont Sprint Championship (G2).

Placed in the past two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and last November’s Cigar Mile H. (G1), he missed by a whisker in the June 9 Met Mile H. (G1) and most recently finished second to Diversify when first attempting 1 1/8 miles in the Whitney (G1). The third-placer in the Whitney happened to be Discreet Lover, the 45-1 upsetter of Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

Exiting his Lukas Classic heroics in grand order, the versatile Mind Your Biscuits awaits his connections’ Breeders’ Cup decision. If the six-furlong Sprint is a tad short in American conditions, and the Classic would be a much sterner test, the one-turn Dirt Mile figures to be his ideal set-up on paper.

“Is there another race for him today?” Summers joked Sunday. “He’s feeling good this morning. When he was cooling out in the Test Barn last night and he heard the (Arabian race, the President of the UAE Cup) go off, he got puffed up and wanted to run again. We’re just lucky to be in a great spot with him and he’s doing well after the race.”

Seeking the Soul and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. capture the Ack Ack Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on September 29, 2018 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Also with Breeders’ Cup options is Saturday night’s Ack Ack (G3) hero Seeking the Soul. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the Charles Fipke homebred was scoring for the first time since his signature win in the Clark H. (G1) at Churchill last Thanksgiving weekend.

“That was a legit race with a legit final time,” Stewart said Sunday. “He ran the mile in (1:35.01) and showed a great effort at a track we know he loves. I’m pumped as ever with this horse. We have our options open a bit between the Dirt Mile and the Classic. Mr. Fipke and I will get together to talk things over about where to head. He’s doing great this morning after the race.”

Seeking the Soul, the 7-2 second choice, was reserved a couple of lengths off the pace as 6-5 favorite C Z Rocket vied with Warrior’s Club through splits of :24.03, :47.63, and 1:11.48. By that point, jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. had Seeking the Soul on the move into third. Staying on relentlessly down the length of the stretch, the son of Perfect Soul drove 1 1/4 lengths clear.

“I think the slower pace helped me today,” Hernandez recapped. “I was able to keep up close to the pace and the leaders didn’t get away from me. This horse is a Grade 1 winner and he showed it tonight. I have always been confident in him. On paper there was not a lot of speed but I was confident he’d be able to close ground no matter what.”

Nice Not Nice came out on top of a three-way photo for the minors with Giant Expectations and C Z Rocket. Next came Awesome Slew, lackluster in his title defense, and Warrior’s Club. Flatlined was scratched.

Seeking the Soul improved his record to 21-6-4-5, $1,482,542. A 1 1/16-mile track record-setter at Keeneland last October, the descendant of Hall of Famer Personal Ensign followed up promptly in the Clark. In the interim he’d finished fifth in the Pegasus World Cup, a head second in the July 14 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, and 13th in the Woodward (G1).

Hot Springs scored in the Jerfferson Cup Stakes under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. at Churchill Downs on September 29, 2018 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Kicking off the stakes action, Woodford Racing’s Hot Springs mowed down 27-1 wire threat Discovered in the $100,000 Jefferson Cup. The 2-1 favorite had 2 1/2 lengths to make up after Discovered got away with slow fractions of :24.12, :49.58, 1:15.44, and 1:40.90 on the good turf. But under Ricardo Santana Jr., the Steve Asmussen sophomore picked up inside the final furlong to win going away by a length.

The notoriously late-running Captivating Moon flashed home too late, settling for third.

“This horse loves it on this course at Churchill Downs,” Santana said of Hot Springs. “He’s won on it twice (his maiden and entry-level allowance scores) and handles it very well. I have to thank the owner and trainer for allowing me to ride this horse. I was very confident in him tonight and we got it done. I think he is just going to get better with age.”

“It took a $750,000 purchase to beat us,” observed Declan Cannon, Discovered’s jockey. “I’ll tell you what, we almost stole it on the front end. He ran so well and tried hard. We almost had it.”

Hot Springs, an Uncle Mo colt who commanded that three-quarters of a million price at Keeneland September, sports a mark of 6-3-1-0, $187,720. This first stakes victory followed a runner-up effort in the July 14 Kent (G3) and a fourth in the September 1 Saranac (G3).