By anyone’s standards, it was an impressive performance.
Coming off a 4 ¼-length victory in a maiden race at Fair Grounds, Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards seemed ambitiously placed in the $1 million, Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, yet trainer Bret Calhoun was willing to gamble.
“The light went on,” Calhoun said about the 3-year-old son of Goldencents.
And now that light will shine on the path to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
Rallying along the inside in the stretch, Be My Standards motored past the Todd Pletcher-trained Spinoff in the stretch at 22.50-1 odds and earned a spot in the May 4 run for the roses by collecting 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point series.
“We’re going to the Derby, how about that!” shouted a gleeful Chester Thomas after By My Standards accounted for his stable’s 100th victory.
Calhoun was less vocal, but equally delighted with the prospect of having the horse that is currently atop the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard and is bound for Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
“It takes a long time to sink in,” Calhoun said about the victory that followed the colt’s maiden win on Feb. 16 at Fair Grounds. “He did what he was supposed to do [in the maiden race] and in the mornings he was phenomenal. ... He was a different horse in the morning from that point on. I mean his breezes were unbelievable. There were some fast works in there and none of them were intentional. He just turned into a different horse.
“That gave us a lot of confidence coming in here. I know a lot of people didn’t have confidence in him, but we did. We’re excited about the opportunity to run [in the Kentucky Derby].”
A surprising as By My Standards’ victory may have been, equally baffling was the lackluster effort by 4-5 favorite War of Will. Winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes earlier in the meet, War of Will lost his footing shortly after the break and never entered contention while finishing ninth of 11 — his first loss in four starts on dirt.
“He said he broke on top and went about three jumps and then he lost his rear end,” trainer Mark Casse said. “I don’t know. But he seems fine. He broke like a shot but you watch the replay and you’ll see it. I really don’t know. I think he got him a little bit out of his element when that happened. It scared me because I thought he got hurt but he’s fine.”
Barring a physical setback, the loss will not prevent War of Will from running in the Kentucky Derby as he has 60 points, placing him second behind By My Standards.
Spinoff picked up 40 points and is eighth in the point standings, which should be good enough to punch Pletcher’s 16th straight ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
Third-place finisher Sueno received 20 points and is 12th with 28 while Country House, who was fourth, gained 10 points and is 11th.
While 64-1 shot Lemniscate set the early pace of 23.63 and 47.68 seconds in the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby, Sueno, Spinoff, and By My Standards were directly behind him and wound up dominating the race.
Spinoff made a four-wide move for the lead and seemed ready to cruise to victory as he opened a length lead at the eighth pole until By My Standards and jockey Gabriel Saez began gobbling up ground inside him. In a two-horse battle to the wire, the maiden winner ($47 for a $2 win bet) then surged past Spinoff in the final yards and covered the distance in 1:49.53.
“It was a perfect trip,” Saez said. “I saved as much horse as I could and he got the job done when I asked him to do it.”
Spinoff, making just his fourth career start and second since a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on Aug. 12, was five lengths clear of Sueno. Another three-quarters-of-a-length behind, Country House, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, rallied six wide from ninth to take fourth by 1 ½ lengths over Mr. Money, who is also owned by Thomas.
The only horses to win both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby are Grindstone (1996) and Black Gold (1924). Funny Cide (2003) is the only other winner of the run for the roses who raced in the Louisiana Derby.
Bred by Don Ladd in Kentucky, By My Standards was purchased for $150,000 at the 2018 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.
By My Standards now has two wins in five starts with earnings of $653,710.
“How do you put this in perspective? It hasn’t sunk in yet. Life is good right now. It doesn’t get any better than this,” Thomas said.
Who knows? Depending on what happens on May 4 at Churchill Downs, it just might.