At 22-1, not many bettors had faith in By My Standards to win the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds on Saturday, but jockey Gabriel Saez told anyone who would listen that his mount in the $1-million race worth 170 points to the Kentucky Derby (G1) was sitting on a big race.
“I told you!” Saez said while exchanging a high five with owner Chester Thomas of Allied Racing Stable LLC.
“You tried to tell me,” fellow jockey Florent Geroux said while giving his fellow journeyman a high five at the scales following By My Standard’s three-quarter length win over Spinoff.
“We’ve loved this horse since I got on him (as a two-year-old),” Saez said. “He’s been working great but hasn’t put it together in the afternoon. Then his last race gave us a lot of confidence, and he kept working well.”
This year’s Louisiana Derby seemingly went through War of Will, the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner who was made the 4-5 favorite to run his stakes streak to three. It wasn’t meant to be for the War Front colt, though, as he issues at the start and battled traffic for most of the 1 1/8-mile journey.
“We think what happened was about four jumps out of the gate, he actually broke in front and…if you watch he buckles on his right hind. And we believe, maybe it was stumble of some sort. But when he did we think he strained maybe a muscle or whatever,” trainer Mark Casse said.
“But he was significantly off after the race. He’s significantly off. I’ve just been on the phone with Dr. Robert McMartin, he’s my main guy. And he thinks he maybe caught his stifle or something. We feel like he’ll probably be a little better tomorrow and we’re going to further evaluation him.”
As far as the Derby implications for War of Will, Casse added, “I mean it is (too soon). I would not absolutely rule him out because this is something that he can get over very quickly. We’ll see. The good news is he hasn’t broken anything. It’s a muscle strain of some sort. We’re confident of that.”
For By My Standard’s part, however, Saez gave the Goldencents colt a smooth trip. He was never out of touch of longshot pacesetter Lemniscate while sitting off Spinoff and eventual third-place finisher Sueno. He stopped the clock in 1:49.53 over the fast main track.
“The maiden win was crucial,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “We were disappointed when finishing third two races back. We felt like we had control of that race, but he just didn’t put horses away. To see him bounce back from that to get the win and then come back with such strong breezes we had a lot of confidence.”
The win gives By My Standards 100 Kentucky Derby points, and Calhoun confirmed immediately after the race that the 1 1/4-mile Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs would be the colt’s target.
“We’re going to the Kentucky Derby! How about that,” exclaimed Thomas after the race.
Thomas lives in Madisonville, Kentucky, and calls Ellis Park in nearby Henderson his home base during the summer meeting there. His Louisiana Derby score with By My Standards is easily his biggest win as an owner, which includes a pair titles at Ellis as leading owner.
Bred by Don Ladd in Kentucky, By My Standards is now 5-2-2-1, $653,710 lifetime. The bay colt is out of the dual stakes-winning Muqtarib mare A Jealous Woman.