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Longshot By My Standards rallies to win Louisiana Derby

The Louisiana Derby (G2) was supposed to go the way of favorite War of Will after winning two other Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds. However, War of Will lost his footing behind not long after the break and ended up finishing ninth. That left the stretch drive open, and longshot By My Standards was put to a drive and rallied past second-betting choice Spinoff in the final furlong to win the $1 million race by three-quarters of a length. Sueno was five lengths farther back in third and just in front of Country House, who finished fourth.

By My Standards entered the Louisiana Derby off a maiden special weight win on February 16 and had been training brilliantly in the mornings according to his jubilant owner, Chester Thomas, who came bounding down the stands and through the crowd, yelling at the top of his lungs after the victory. By My Standards completed 1 18 miles in 1:49.53 and paid $47 to win. Lemniscate led through early fractions of :23.63, :47.68 and 1:11.54 before stalking Spinoff got to the lead in the stretch to post a mile in 1:36.84. However, it was By My Standards who kicked into gear late while rallying past three horses in the stretch to win.

Thomas could not believe By My Standards was still at 47-1 odds just minutes before the race, so he bet $500 on his horse to win and cashed in with many others who wagered late to drop the odds to 22-1. Trainer Bret Calhoun knew By My Standards was ready for a big run based on his recent works and rapid improvement.

"He did what he was supposed to do (in the maiden race), and in the mornings he was phenomenal. He was a different horse in the morning from that point on. I mean, his breezes were unbelievable. There were some fast works in there, and none of them were intentional. He just turned into a different horse," Calhoun explained.

"That gave us a lot of confidence coming in here. I know a lot of people didn’t have confidence in him, but we did. We’re excited about the opportunity to run (in the Kentucky Derby)."

The victory gave By My Standards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, guaranteeing him a spot in the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.The Todd Pletcher-trained Spinoff picked up 40 Derby points and is likely to also run in the Kentucky Derby.

The victory was a milestone for jockey Gabriel Saez, who earned his 100th career victory.

"It feels great to do it in this race," Saez said. "It was the break. It put me in a good position (third). And, I said, ‘Well, I’m just going to sit here and wait.’ Then, it opened up tremendously on the rail for me (at the top of the stretch), and I said ‘Nice time to go.’ He got the job done."

The only horses to win both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby are Grindstone (1996) and Black Gold (1924). Funny Cide, hero of the 2003 Kentucky Derby, also ran in the Louisiana Derby, finishing third before being elevated to second via disqualification.

By My Standards will have another chance to prove the doubters wrong in the May 4 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Louisiana Derby History

Since 2010, the Louisiana Derby has been contested at 1 18 miles, and the race is now annually held at the end of March. From 1988-2009 the Louisiana Derby was run at 1 116 miles, and all prior years 1 18 miles. The 1 18 mile speed record was set by Clev Er Tell in 1977 in 1:48.80.

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The Fair Grounds track is a sandy surface that requires more water and has more cushion since a new superintendent and staff arrived late in 2009. It’s deeper and has more base to it, but both midpack and deeper closers have had success with four of the last nine Louisiana Derby winners fitting that style in the race.

In the last 90 Louisiana Derby’s since 1920, the favorite has won 43 times, including three of the last four years. Horse of the Year, six-time Grade 1 scorer and near $16 million earner Gun Runner won in 2016, but he was the third betting choice. The favorite in the race since 1920 has placed second 16 times and finished third 11 times for an in-the-money rate of 77.7 percent. Since 2007, the favorite has won seven times, finished second twice and fourth or better.

Of the last 12 winners, 10 raced at Fair Grounds in their previous race, with nine of those exiting the Risen Star Stakes and five of them winning that race. Hero of Order pulled off a major upset in 2012 when taking the Louisiana Derby at odds of 109-1, paying $220.80 to win.

Grindstone was the last Louisiana Derby winner in 1996 to go on to win the Kentucky Derby.

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