Coming off a decidedly sub-par performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), a better effort from By My Standards in Friday’s $500,000 Clark Stakes (G1) would not be a surprise. However, the son of Goldencents will have to be faster than 13 rivals in the traditional Black Friday feature at Churchill Downs over 1 1/8 miles.
By My Standards’ 2020 form prior to the Breeders’ Cup, where he finished eighth by 14 lengths to Authentic, was rock-solid. Victorious in the New Orleans Classic (G2), Oaklawn H. (G2), and Alysheba (G2), even his setbacks — seconds to Tom’s d’Etat in the Stephen Foster (G2) and Improbable in the Whitney (G1) — were strong.
“He loves this track at Churchill Downs so I think he’ll do a lot better getting back here,” jockey Gabriel Saez said. “We didn’t get the best of trips in the Breeders’ Cup and he didn’t like the surface that day.”
By My Standards officially lacks a win at Grade 1 level, not so Code of Honor. Winner last year of the Travers (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) after being elevated to second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Code of Honor was expected to be one of the main players in the older dirt male division this year. However, he’s scored just once in four tries this term, that being a narrow, season-opening try over the mud in the Westchester (G3). He was subsequently third in the Metropolitan H. (G1), fourth in the Whitney, and second in the Kelso H. (G2).
“He’s just been a victim of circumstances with the COVID situation,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “He won (the Westchester on June 6) and I really had in my mind I wasn’t going to run him back until the Whitney (on Aug. 1). He’s run a lot better with his races spaced.
“(Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) told me after the Met that this horse definitely wants two turns. His race in the Kelso against Complexity, who was the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), was a really good race. We had to change riders on him that day. Javier (Castellano) is obviously a great rider but may not have known him as well as Johnny did. All in all, it was sort of just a messed up year. Now he’s gotten his space and he’s run good over this Churchill track.”
Second in the 2019 Clark behind Tom’s d’Etat, Owendale has also been somewhat underwhelming this season despite entering the year with high expectations. Winner of the one-mile Blame S. to start his 4-year-old campaign, he later finished second in the Alysheba and as an odds-on favorite in the Pimlico Special (G3). Owendale failed to place in either the Stephen Foster or Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Other leading names in the Clark include Mr Freeze, Aurelius Maximus, Title Ready, and Coastal Defense, who filled out the top four placings in last month’s Fayette (G2) at Keeneland. Making only his second start since May and exiting a track-and-distance allowance victory is last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) hero Silver Prospector, who unluckily drew post 14 for the Clark.