Tales from the Crib: By My Standards

Apr 24, 2019 Kellie Reilly/Brisnet.com

Kentucky Derby (G1) contender By My Standards is living proof of the old adage, “Take care of the horse, and the horse will take care of you.”

At this time last year, the leggy, immature colt looked behind the developmental curve. His new connections – Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable and trainer Bret Calhoun – gave him the crucial time he needed to strengthen and to grow up. Now they’re reaping the rewards as the rapidly progressive Louisiana Derby (G2) winner is bringing them to their first Kentucky Derby.

By My Standards is from the first crop of two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents. That sire had punched his own Kentucky Derby ticket six years ago by taking the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and accordingly featured in an early version of “Tales from the Crib” in 2013 . Although he found the “Run for the Roses” beyond him, Goldencents thrived on the cutback to shorter distances and retired with more than $3 million in earnings.

By My Standards’ dam, A Jealous Woman, likewise excelled at a mile, but on turf. Victorious in the 2012 Swingtime S. and 2013 Megahertz S. at Santa Anita, she beat all bar British shipper Rhythm of Light in the Goldikova (G2).

A Jealous Woman was easily the best North American runner sired by the nicely-bred but obscure Muqtarib, a son of Gone West. Yet that’s not at all the most important fact about her.

What makes A Jealous Woman remarkable is that she reached her peak after overcoming a potentially career-ending injury – a bowed tendon!

Initially trained by Bill Spawr, the California-bred shaped with promise when compiling a four-race winning streak. She was becoming a feel-good story for Three Cent Stable, a partnership that included a couple of retired post office workers, among them her co-breeder, Nick Tamborrino, and cheered on by dozens of their family members and friends.

Spawr told Daily Racing Form ’s Steve Andersen that A Jealous Woman had top-class ability.

“I think she's that's good,” Spawr said in a February 20, 2010, DRF article. “I had Exchange (a multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire) and I think (A Jealous Woman) is that good.'

Those hopes were dashed after A Jealous Woman’s injury. But time proved the healer. After 20 months on the sidelines, she resurfaced for new trainer Francis Meza, whose husband, Eddie, served as racetrack chaplain on the Southern California circuit for 25 years.

Both were accomplished horsepeople, and they brought A Jealous Woman back, not only to race, but to compete successfully at the stakes level. Thus the chestnut mare earned the opportunity to show her natural ability as well as her resilient spirit and determination.

A Jealous Woman’s first foal, the four-year-old Ghostzapper gelding named Holy Ghost, just broke his maiden over the same Santa Anita turf on April 7. By that point, his younger half-brother was already famous.

By My Standards was bred in Kentucky by Don Ladd, who had been involved in Three Cent Stable. The March 22-foaled bay was cataloged to be sold as a weanling at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, only to be withdrawn.

The yet-unnamed youngster was sent to Scanlon Training and Sales in Florida to prepare for the OBS April two-year-olds in training sale. Unfurnished and all legs, he was playing catch-up against the more developed juveniles.

“He was a really nice horse – big beautiful frame – he just had to fill in,” David Scanlon said, noting that he “had to work a little bit” to get ready in time for the sale.

As if he weren’t dealt a tough enough hand, the Goldencents colt was listed as Hip No. 6. Going that early in the sale can be a disadvantage as prospective buyers are just feeling their way through, and often more circumspect about their bidding and spending limits.

Still, he could advertise himself with a strong workout at the under tack show, where the juveniles try to turn on the speed. He didn’t have the easiest playing field as he negotiated a furlong in :10 3/5.

“He worked on a difficult day,” Scanlon recalled. “The track was a little slow, and there was a headwind.”

But up-and-coming bloodstock agent Josh Stevens spied the “mechanics in his breeze” and his “really good stride length,” and envisioned potential in the raw-looking colt with a “presence about him.

“When he stood in front of you, he was immature, but had a great body – an Into Mischief-line (Goldencents’ sire) with a lot of leg.

“If you could find an Into Mischief type with leg, I felt he could be something.”

Scanlon used the same phrase in discussing the colt with Stevens.

“This horse can be something; he just needs time,” Scanlon said. “He just needs a minute to catch up. He had to do a lot to get to the sale. Let him grow.”

That resonated with Stevens, who realized this wasn’t merely a sales pitch from a consignor.

“He was saying exactly what I was thinking and feeling,” Stevens recalled. “I just felt what I saw, was exactly what Dave told me.”

The fact that he was by Goldencents worked in his favor too. Stevens had already been hearing good reports from the farm regarding another Goldencents he’d purchased as a Keeneland September yearling – Mr. Money – for Allied Racing Stable.

Thus Stevens took the plunge on this one, for the same owner, and made the winning bid at $150,000. Named By My Standards, the colt got a holiday after all of his sales work, and he didn’t turn up on the worktab for Calhoun at Churchill Downs until September.

“Credit to everybody on Josh and Bret’s team,” Scanlon said. “They gave him time to develop on his own.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Money was panning out pretty well. After a convincing Churchill maiden score on September 28, he was earmarked for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

But he wasn’t the one capturing Calhoun’s imagination: the trainer kept talking about the unraced By My Standards, and actually thought he would be better than Mr. Money.

“That’s a very bold statement when we’re going to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile” with Mr. Money, Stevens said.

And when Mr. Money finished fourth to champion Game Winner in the Juvenile, Calhoun’s prognostication appeared all the harder to accept.

“How can you keep thinking the other horse is better?” Stevens recalled wondering, and at the same time respecting Calhoun as a horseman.

“Bret is a man of few words, but when he speaks, it’s pretty valuable stuff.”

By My Standards tested his trainer’s words by taking four starts to break his maiden, but finally turned the corner with a 4 1/4-length rout at Fair Grounds. Calhoun pitched him straight into the Louisiana Derby, where bettors overlooked him at 22-1. Now that he was starting to put it all together, he took another giant step forward to spring the upset and earn his spot in Derby 145.

As if Calhoun’s judgment needed further vindication, Mr. Money was only fifth in the Louisiana Derby. By My Standards did indeed eclipse his hitherto more forward stablemate, and come a long way since he was but a shell of a horse at the sale.

“This horse has done everything you think he would have done physically,” Stevens said. “Now he’s just blossomed – he’s a ball of muscle.

“I had a handful of California guys tell me afterward that they should have known” that A Jealous Woman’s colt would be successful. “They knew how good she was.”

By My Standards was also kicking off a career-making week for young Stevens. Seven days after the Louisiana Derby, Plus Que Parfait landed the UAE Derby (G2) on the Dubai World Cup card. Stevens had bought his dam for Calloway Stables, who went on to breed Plus Que Parfait as only their third foal.

“To me, it’s like a maze,” Stevens said of the bloodstock game. “If you turn left, you could be out of luck. If you turn right, you could hit a home run.”

Guided by their horseman’s intuition, Stevens, Scanlon, and Calhoun all made the right turn with By My Standards.

Photo and video courtesy of ThoroStride

  • Ticket Info

    Sign up for race updates and more