'Top-echelon' By My Standards enters Oaklawn Handicap mix

'Top-echelon' By My Standards enters Oaklawn Handicap mix
Photo: Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir

Over the winter, trainer Bret Calhoun saw a different, more refined version of By My Standards readying for his 4-year-old campaign. And so the expectations heightened.

“He trained fantastically coming back. He physically made a lot of changes,” Calhoun said. “…They don’t always live up to expectations when we lead them over there, but he did.”

After back-to-back wins on return, most recently a three-length victory in the New Orleans Classic (G2), By My Standards will take on the only currently scheduled meeting of older horses this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calhoun has the Goldencents colt targeting the Grade 2, $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap scheduled for May 2.

The recent Santa Anita Handicap (G1) hero Combatant and Warrior’s Charge, who took the Razorback Handicap (G3) earlier in the Oaklawn Park meet, are among those expected in the 1 1/8-mile feature on Arkansas Derby day.

By My Standards, a bit of a late bloomer at 3, upset the Louisiana Derby (G2), ran 11th in the Kentucky Derby and received the rest of the season off to heal up a nagging foot ailment. On return Feb. 9, he signaled readiness for more when coasting to a six-length allowance optional claiming victory at Fair Grounds.

“He came back and faced better horses and pretty much dominated them, too,”  Calhoun said of the New Orleans Classic. “We really feel like he’s going to be a top-echelon horse in the older division this year.”

In both starts this season, By My Standards tracked just off the pace setter and launched when cued by jockey Gabriel Saez.

Campaigned by Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable, By My Standards returned to the work tab Saturday in Louisiana, breezing an easy half mile in 53.20 seconds. Overall, he’s 4-2-1 in eight starts, with the Derby marking his only off-the-board finish after a slow break in the slop at Churchill Downs.

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