By My Standards Odds to Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
The Road to the Kentucky Derby this spring has been equal parts frustrating and underwhelming for long stretches. Horses that we expected a lot from have often found ways to disappoint. And a lot of big races have been won by horses who weren't exactly at the forefront of our minds before the race. The Louisiana Derby certainly fit into that category, and now By My Standards - a horse that didn't even make it into the preview of the race I wrote - is heading to the Kentucky Derby. Does he have what it takes to be a contender? Or did lightning just strike at precisely the right time?
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Last race: Making his stakes debut in the Louisiana Derby, the horse looked like he belonged. Going off at 22/1, he raced where he likes to, sitting just off the pace in fourth for the first half of the race. He was third entering the stretch, and he kept moving forward on the way home, winning by a short length. It wasn't the strongest of major prep race fields, and odds-on favorite War of Will had a horrible day. Therefore, you have to take the race with a bit of a grain of salt. But the horse has moved forward two races in a row and could keep improving.
Prior experience: Sometimes it takes a young horse a while to figure out how this game works. That is certainly the case here. The horse made starts in maiden races in November, December and January. He was second twice and third once, but he did not look like a horse that was going to amount to much. But in February he looked like an entirely different horse. He faced adversity early, but shook it off, took the lead on the final turn after racing just off the early pace, and pulled off to win by four lengths. On the strength of that impressive effort, and two consecutive bullet works on busy training days, the horse earned his stakes debut - which he was clearly ready for. Sometimes you can toss out the early efforts from a horse. That could be the case here, though I want to see another race or two before I get ahead of myself.
Trainer: In February Bret Calhoun won his 3,000th race, making him just the 30th trainer to join that exclusive club. The next guy to pass the milestone, likely late this year, will be Bob Baffert - though Baffert has obviously earned just a little bit more. Derby trainers Steve Asmussen, Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher are also in the club, and Jerry Hollendorfer could wind up with a Derby starter, too. While Calhoun has won a ton of races, only 33 have come in graded stakes. Two of them came in Breeders' Cup races in 2010. He is making his Derby debut here.
Jockey: Gabriel Saez has never won a Triple Crown race or a Breeders' Cup race. The closest he has come was in 2008 when the filly Eight Belles finished second in the Derby and then tragically died right after the race. Saez has been riding since 2006 and has nearly 1,200 wins. But this colt is already the second-winningest mount of his career by earnings, so Saez has not landed in the big time with any regularity. In the 2009 Derby he was on Friesan Fire, the surprising post time favorite who wound up a dismal 18th in the race won by Mine That Bird in an epic upset. Gabriel's cousin Luis was second in the Preakness last year with Bravazo, and he could be in the Derby this year with Maximum Security.
Breeding: By My Standards is a son of Goldencents. That horse won the Santa Anita Derby in 2013 but finished an ugly 17th in the Derby and then fifth in the Preakness. He found his place at a mile, winning the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in both 2013 and 2014. Not bad for a horse originally bought for just $5500 as a yearling. The horse is new to the stallion ranks, but he led the nation in first crop wins last year. This is his best offspring to date. By My Standards' damsire is Muqtarib, a well-bred stud who failed to distinguish himself on the track or in the breeding shed. He won a graded stakes in England as a juvenile, but by the end of his racing career he was running in claiming races in the States. He sired four stakes winners, with A Jealous Woman, the dam of By My Standards, being the most successful. This is not the best-bred horse in the field by any means.
Odds: By My Standards went off at 32/1 in the final Kentucky Derby futures pool, which puts him in the bottom half of the prospective field. BetOnline has him at +3300 in early betting action.
Can By My Standards Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby?: Maybe, but probably not. His breeding makes this distance a bit of a concern. And while he is improving, he still hasn't been tested with strong runners like the ones he will face in this race. He will need everything to go his way, and he will be running a race shape similar to some better horses. He will be a long shot - and for good reason.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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