When Chad Summers went to high school, all he wanted to be was a jockey.
He never realised that teenage ambition, but that adolescent disappointment will be surely forgotten should he train Mind Your Biscuits to win the US$2 million (Dh7.34m) Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.
Success in the UAE’s premier sprint would be a remarkable feat, because Summers only received his training licence last month. He has yet to have a winner from just four runners in America and has only 12 horses in his barn back home.
“All I wanted to be was a jockey,” he said at Meydan yesterday. “I was 4ft 10 and weighed 90lbs, but when I was tall enough to ride the roller-coaster I cried because then I couldn’t be one.
“The opportunity to be here to win any race, let alone a $2m race in front of Sheikh Mohammed, is fantastic,” referring to the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Being a trainer was about the last job left in racing open to the 32 year old that he had not tried his hand at.
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Out of college he was a budding journalist who cut his teeth as an intern at the Thoroughbred Times. He also covered the sport for the website Greatestgame.com.
He came and went from the Associated Press and worked briefly for the Horse Racing Radio Network.
In between he gained a deeper understanding of the sport from Grade 1-winning trainer Bernie Flint. He also worked in a multitude of roles for lesser American conditioners such as Chuck Simon.
He was a hot walker. He was a groom. He has been an assistant trainer and had a spell as a racing manager.
Summers’s only tangible success has come in the wheeler-dealer world of being a bloodstock agent.
He reportedly bought Grade 1 winner Off The Tracks and sold a 60 per cent stake in the filly to Todd Pletcher.
His best piece of business, however, remains buying half a stake in Mind Your Biscuits for just $30,000 when the son of Posse was just a yearling.
Summers had hoped to shift Mind Your Biscuits as a juvenile but he was forced to turn the horse into a project when nobody wanted to buy him.
If the lack of interest in Mind Your Biscuits was the first bump in the road that forced Summers to knuckle down, then becoming a father was the second.
“You have got to try to work out what you want to do to make you happy,” he said.
“When you have kids it makes you think long-term about what you want and you need to provide and support that family. You can’t raise a family earning $200 a week.”
Mind Your Biscuits will start as favourite for the Golden Shaheen and justifiably so.
He finished third to Drefong in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November, but he was subsequently promoted to second after Masochistic was disqualified for anabolic steroids.
He then stepped up to win the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Boxing Day from Godolphin Mile favourite Sharp Azteca before running a respectable prep when second to Unified in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The four-year-old colt completed his final preparation on Tuesday at a rain-soaked Meydan by running 400 metres in 22.2 seconds, before galloping out 800 metres in 52 seconds.
Most dirt sprints at Meydan are won by horses who like to run prominently, so Dubai World Cup-winning rider Joel Rosario will have to be at his best if he is to get his fast-finishing mount up from prominent speedsters such as US raider St Joe Bay and last season’s winner Muarrab.
One horse who will not pose a threat is fellow US raider Imperial Hint, who arrived in Dubai this week with a fever and has been replaced by Salem bin Ghadayer’s High On Life. The name Mind Your Biscuits originates from a song by the Country and Western artist Kacey Musgraves.
Summers was deciding on a name for his pride and joy when the song was released early in 2015.
“Every time the horse runs, my brother will send her a tweet that her horse is running,” Summers said.
“She hasn’t got back to us yet, but now we are on the world stage maybe we can get a follow.
“I can sing the song for you if you want, but that will be on Saturday night after we win.”
Summers may be a jack of all trades thus far, but he is at least a master of being confident.
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