NEW ORLEANS (AP) — By My Standards briefly was listed as a 48-1 long shot in the $1 million Louisiana Derby as post time approached, which was right about the time owner Chester Thomas decided to bet on his horse.
His faith was rewarded with a big pay day and qualification for Triple Crown-opening Kentucky Derby.
By My Standards passed three horses down the stretch, including the Todd Pletcher-trained second favorite, Spinoff, and surprisingly won by nearly a length at the Fair Grounds Race Course on Saturday.
“We don’t run these horses in these spots if we don’t think we got a shot to win — and we really thought we had a good shot,” Thomas said. “We were shocked he was at the odds he was at. I couldn’t believe it.”
The winning purse was $600,000 for a horse that had previous career winnings of $53,710. Going off at 22-1 after late bets moves the odds, By My Standard paid $47, $16.60 and $9.40 on a minimum $2 bet. Thomas said he bet $500.
“We’re probably going to blow it all tonight,” Thomas said with a raspy laugh.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards earned 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, assuring qualification.
“You hear a lot of trainers talk this time of year about an improving 3-year-old and that’s what we’ve got,” Calhoun said. “He finished up well. I don’t think the tank was empty. He ran a super race and hopefully comes back great and healthy and we move forward from here.”
Jockey Gabriel Saez steered By My Standards into fourth entering the final turn and finished the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.53 under clear skies and on a fast track, nearly a length ahead of Spinoff, which went off a 4-1.
“Right after the start, I got to be in the position that I wanted to be,” Saez said, referring to how By My Standards settled just behind the leaders from the fifth post position. “That was a good stalking position. I just kind of saved the horse as much as I can until it was really time to get running and open up for me. And when I asked him kick the gear, he did.”
Added Calhoun: “I got pretty excited because I thought I had a huge shot off the turn. There were some people around me, I’m sure, that think I’m crazy and probably didn’t know it was my horse.”
With John Velazquez aboard, Spinoff earned 40 points for second place and paid $6.80 and $5.40.
Sueno — trained by Keith Desormeaux and with jockey Corey Lanerie aboard — was second entering the stretch, but finished third and paid $6.
“He broke really good,” Lanerie said. “I thought at the quarter pole that I was going to get the win, you know? He was running so easy and had his ears pricked. Those horses just beat him today. No excuse.”
War of Will was the morning line favorite at 6-5 and went off at 4-6. But after settling in the middle of the pack, the winner of the previous two Fair Grounds prep races — the Lecomte Stakes and Risen Star Stakes — faded and finished ninth in what was the colt’s first loss on a dirt track.
With 60 qualifying points coming in, not to mention $491,549 in career earnings, War of Will still will qualify to race the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4 — if deemed fit enough.
Trainer Mark Casse said War Of Will appeared to briefly lose his rear footing shortly after breaking from the gate and appears to have a muscle strain.
Casse stressed he “would not absolutely rule him out” of the Kentucky Derby, “because this is something that he can get over very quickly.
“We’ll see,” Casse added. “The good news is he hasn’t broken anything.”
By contrast, By My Standards’ performance against a solid field at the Fair Grounds had his trainer sounding optimistic about the colt’s chances of contending at Churchill Downs.
“It gives you a lot of confidence beating a group like that,” Calhoun said. “I knew we were up against it today. I didn’t know exactly how we were going to stack up to those kinds of horses, but we knew our horse was doing very, very good and deserved a chance.”