War of Will Ninth at 4-5
By Dick Downey
Photo by Hodges Photo
After a week of build-up and great expectations, a virtual unknown won the Louisiana Derby when By My Standards, ridden by Gabriel Saez, crossed the finish line first in Fair Grounds' signature race.
The race wasn't a carousel in the strictest sense, but the top three finishers, By My Standards, Spinoff and Sueno, were fourth, third and second, respectively, at each of the first three calls of the race. Only pacesetter and 64-1 longshot Lemniscate, who led at each of those calls, wasn't around at the finish.
A timer malfunction resulted in no fractions or a final time being posted during the race. According to the Equibase chart, the race was hand-timed, with Lemniscate setting early splits of 23.63 for the first quarter-mile, 47.68 for the half, and 1:11.54 for six furlongs. The four early leaders were never separated by more than 3 1/2 lengths during that time.
Lemniscate still led into the stretch, only to virtually stop running. Spinoff, with John Velazquez aboard, led by a length with one furlong remaining in the race but was overtaken by By My Standards late for a three-quarter length win. Sueno, with Corey Lanerie up, finished third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. Country House was the only horse to make an impression with a late run. With Luis Saze aboard, he placed fourth, another three quarters of a length back.
The remaining order of finish was Mr. Money, Roiland, Bankit, Hog Creek Hustle, War of Will, Limonite and Lemniscate.
The winning time, according to the chart, was 1:49.53.
War of Will, the 4-5 favorite after winning both the LeComte Stakes and the Risen Star at the track, was in sixth place at each of the first three calls, and leaving the far turn he was only 2 1/4 lengths off the lead. He clearly struggled in the stretch and was beaten a dozen lengths.
At 22-1 odds, By My Standards returned his $2 backers $47.00 to win, $16.60 to place and $9.40 to show.
The Louisiana Derby is the first race on this year's Road to the Kentucky Derby to carry 170 points. By winning, By My Standards took in 100 points, more than enough to make the Run for the Roses. Spinoff's 40 points is probably enough as well. Sueno, who had eight points going in, now has 28; and Country House picked up 10 points to run his total to 30. The latter two horses could wind up on the Derby points bubble, depending on future events.
To read more about By My Standards and his connections, click here.
Winning trainer Bret Calhoun: “I think the maiden win was crucial for him. When he was third the time before he broke his maiden, it was a very disappointing race for us. It looked like he had the race in control and just didn’t finish them off. It was a disappointing race. He bounced back, and that’s when the light came on. He was a different horse in the mornings from that point on. His breezes in the morning were just unbelievable. There were some fast works there, and none of them were intentional. He just turned into a different horse. It gives you a lot of confidence beating a field like that. (War of Will) had been very impressive for quite a while around here and very consistent. I knew we were up against it today, I didn’t know exactly how we were going to stack up against those kinds of horses, but our horse was doing very, very well and we took our chance.”
Winning jockey Gabriel Saez: “I loved the horse since the day I got on him. He was working great in the mornings and he did a tremendous job. Bret (Calhoun) and (wife and assistant) Sarah have done a tremendous job with him. I was really confident, to be honest with you. I was hoping that he would break on top and put me in the position that I wanted him to be and he did right off the bat. Thank God he ran well. I hope he has more in the tank; that would be great. Hopefully we can get the job done in the Derby, anything can happen. It’s horse racing.”
John Velazquez, jockey of Spinoff: “We had a good trip. He was drifting away from the horses inside of me a bit, and I had to fight him to keep him with the others. Down the stretch. I thought he was home free and then the other horse came to him.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey of Sueno: “He broke really good and I was laying second. 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.”
Bill Mott, trainer of Country House: “He made a big run. He started it a little early and was fairly wide around the turn, yet I thought he had his chance coming off the turn. I thought he looked pretty good there. It wasn’t a horrible race, but I was hoping he would be a little closer than that.”
Mark Casse, trainer of War at Will: “We think what happened was about four jumps out of the gate. He actually broke in front, and if you watch he buckles on his right hind. And we believe, maybe it was stumble of some sort. But when he did, we think he strained maybe a muscle or whatever. But he was significantly off after the race. He’s significantly off. I’ve just been on the phone with Dr. Robert McMartin, he’s my main guy. He thinks he might have caught his stifle or something. We feel like he’ll probably be a little better tomorrow and we’re going to further evaluate him. I would not absolutely rule him out (of the Kentucky Derby) because this is something that he can get over very quickly. We’ll see. The good news is he hasn’t broken anything. It’s a muscle strain of some sort. We’re confident of that.”