by Jeremy Plonk
May 4, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
April 27-May 3, 2020
MVP: By My Standards
Owner: Allied Racing Stable (Chester Thomas)
Trainer: Bret Calhoun
Jockey: Gabriel Saez
Performance: The May 2 Grade 2 $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap provided further evidence that By My Standards has become a force in the Classic division. His New Orleans Handicap victory in March may have been the coming out party, but the Oaklawn Handicap put him on the VIP list. By My Standards defeated an outstanding cast with a first-over charge to surge by Warrior’s Charge and hold favorite Mr. Freeze comfortably at bay. The final time of 1:47.80 was outstanding, including a final 3 furlongs in a sparkling :37.13. It was the fastest Oaklawn Handicap since Medaglia d’Oro (1:47.66) in 2003.
On Tap: The obvious end-goal would be the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in the autumn. How you get there with the uncertain 2020 national stakes schedule will be determined at a later date. By My Standards should travel next to Louisville and join the Bret Calhoun string at Churchill Downs for its anticipated spring-summer meet’s return in mid-May. While CD did not set a date for its entire stakes program when it released a partial lineup in recent days, the possibly rescheduled Stephen Foster would seem a logical kind of race next up if it reappears.
Honorable Mentions: May 2 Grade 2 $500,000 Arkansas Derby split division winners Nadal and Charlatan both turned in highly commendable performances as heavy favorites. The Bob Baffert trainees cruised by 6 and 3 lengths, respectively, as they remain universally respected members of the Kentucky Derby and TBD Triple Crown trails. Nadal advanced to 4-for-4, while Charlatan remained perfect after 3 starts. Also notable last week, Network Effect zipped 7 furlongs in 1:21.79 for trainer Chad Brown to win the May 2 $100,000 Big Drama Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The talented Florida-bred had abbreviated campaigns at ages 2 and 3, but could be developing at 4 into a top-class sprinter/miler.