LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It happens every year leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
A horse on the backside at Churchill Downs - most of the time a longer shot to win the Run for the Roses - catches the eye of many railbirds who are watching the likely Derby entries workout. It only takes one or two compliments for word to start spreading.
And pretty soon, you have a buzz horse.
With 20 horses in the Derby field, and hundreds of people on the backside watching all of the entries’ every move, it’s easy for the buzz horse to be created. But most times, the buzz horse gets bet down in the odds only to run up the track in the race.
There have been some memorable failures as buzz horses, including 1993 when the buzz in the weeks leading up to the Derby was so intense for Bull InThe Heather he went from third choice to the favorite after the early betting on Friday at the Downs concluded. The Florida Derby winner finished 11th in the Derby.
Two years ago, Irish War Cry generated a ton of buzz and finished up the track, while last year Hofburg was all the talk and finished seventh.
Other horses that went from the talk of the backside to bombing in the Derby, include Jumron, Eltish, Friesan Fire, Mor Spirit and Sweetnorthernsaint. The latter ended up taking over the favorite's role from eventual winner Barbaro in 2006.
Now, for the 2019 Kentucky Derby we have a buzz horse.
By My Standards won the Louisiana Derby at 22-1 odds and will likely be 20-1 or higher in the Kentucky Derby. He’s going to be off six weeks between races, but that hasn’t stopped the son of former Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldencents from a ton of early chatter.
Trainer Bret Calhoun is based some of the year at Churchill Downs and the horse has looked fantastic training since the Louisiana Derby win.
By My Standards has worked three times at the Downs since his last race and each has been impressive.
“I think if anybody watches those works, you would be pretty impressed,” Calhoun said. “The novice or the very experienced. These are incredible works that look like a gallop. I think that’s what everybody likes about it. He’s moving across this track very well, and that’s what I like about it and what other like about it.”
Calhoun said the work on Monday for By My Standards was “pretty effortless” and should be enough to hold the fitness level where it needs to be. He’s expected to work at least one more time - likely on Sunday - before the Derby.
“It wasn’t a draining or taxing work,” Calhoun said. “I think it was pretty much ideal.”
By My Standards has a “great mind and great athleticism,” according to Calhoun. He said the barn always had high hopes for By My Standards, who ran second in his first start in late November at Churchill. He was second and third in his next two starts.
But then he broke his maiden on Feb. 16, and just over a month later went from Maiden Special Weight winner to Derby contender. He won the Louisiana Derby by three-quarters of a length over Spinoff and made it into the Derby field.
“As we got to learn more and more about him, we got pretty excited,” Calhoun said. “We had another pretty good horse in the barn, Mr. Money. Everybody kept saying, ‘This horse might be better.’ And Mr. Money’s a pretty good horse. It took By My Standards a little longer to get there but once he got there, he really moved forward.”
By My Standards was 32-1 in the final Derby future book bet, but likely won’t be that high on Derby day.
“The horse is very talented and he’s doing his job,” Calhoun said. “We need to stay out of his way, keep him happy and healthy, and let him do his job.”
But just beware, By My Standards is the buzz horse.