By Ryan Martin

  • Owner Chester Thomas Confident in Louisiana Derby Pair


Having grown up in Kentucky, Allied Racing Stables owner Chester Thomas has attended countless Kentucky Derbies, but as an owner he is still seeking his first opportunity for representation in the Derby starting gate. On Saturday, he’ll have two shots to have a Derby contender with Mr. Money and By My Standards in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Grade II $ 1 million Louisiana Derby – a 100-40-20-10 qualifier on the Road To The Kentucky Derby.

Both of Thomas’ horses have some things in common. They both are trained by Bret Calhoun, sired by Goldencents and were purchased by bloodstock agent Josh Stevens. When it comes to prior racing experience however, they are both pretty different. Mr. Money has recorded two starts against graded stakes company when finishing fourth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs behind Game Winner and was a troubled seventh in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford on February 16. On the other hand, By My Standards broke his maiden last time out by 4¼ lengths over the Fair Grounds main track on February 16 in his fourth career start and makes his graded stakes debut in the Louisiana Derby.

While By My Standards has yet to face graded stakes company, he has finished behind some nice horses prior to his maiden win such as eventual stakes contenders Jersey Agenda and Gun It.

“If you look at the last five-sixteenths, it was a little faster than the Risen Star,” Thomas said of By My Standard’s maiden win, which was run the same day War of Will won the Risen Star. “We thought he had potential and honestly we were scratching our head after the race before his maiden win where he ran third (at Fair Grounds on January 19), it seemed like he was just looking around. (Jockey) Gabe (Saez) did a splendid job the day that he broke his maiden and I think the horse woke up at the eighth pole because he was so in tuned and focused. He galloped out very, very nicely and came back well and was full of himself. He’s had some experience and has been bumped around bit with some of his racing so he’s had some learning and it has seasoned him a bit.”

Jockey Gabriel Saez was the regular rider of both By My Standards and Mr. Money, but will be guiding the former of the two runners. Meanwhile, current Fair Grounds leading rider Adam Beschizza will guide Mr. Money.

“It put Gabe Saez is a tough spot, but we’re blessed to have a good rider on Mr. Money,” Thomas said. “Adam is on fire right now. He got to work Mr. Money this past weekend and we like our post position (five) and we’re ready to let him run.”

A maiden special weight winner by 3½ lengths at Churchill Downs in his third career start, Mr. Money outran his 41-1 odds next time out in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, where he was fourth beaten 9½ lengths.

“We drew the two hole that day and all the speed was on the outside,” Thomas recalled. “We had to get position and use him a bit. He got pretty keen on the bit in the turn and we were excited. I think he used a lot of energy prior to the stretch we were please to finish fourth. It was a very exciting and good day.”

Following the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the original plan was to race back in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on January 19, but a minor illness forced him out of the race. He would eventually train up to the Risen Star Stakes, where he finished seventh.

“Mr. Money ran a winning race,” Thomas said. “Gabe did a nice job with him that day. We had to check a little bit and that may have cost us a place or two. He didn’t have the energy to get rolling again, but he came out of that well and we’re very cautiously optimistic as I’m sure the other owners in the race are. Everything is hitting on all cylinders with Mr. Money.”

Thomas spoke high volumes of both Calhoun and Stevens.

“Bret has it together and I could not be any more pleased that both of my horses are with him, he’s very detail oriented,” Thomas said. “Josh is a super nice young man. He’s got a good eye for a horse and hopefully these horses show themselves well in the race. For me, I want to see young people do well so hopefully this puts Josh on the map with some of the big names out there. I always have had a lot of confidence in him. He’s honest and you can trust what he says. Josh and I work well together.”

Like any other Thoroughbred owner, Thomas is hopeful to one day have a contender for the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, but is also taking on a realistic approach. He only wants to run a horse on the First Saturday in May if it has a legitimate chance to win.

“Obviously if you’re a horseman the First Saturday in May is a special day,” Thomas said. “Being a Kentucky native and having gone to so many Derbies makes it even more special to even think about it. My goal is not to just say I had a horse in the Derby. If we go to the Derby race it would be to win, not just to say we’ve been there. If horses prove themselves worthy, come back well, we’ll do right by them. If we really think we have a shot at winning, we’ll go.

“Both horses couldn’t be doing any better,” Thomas continued. “I know there are some proven good horses in there but we’re excited to get another crack. In my book the surface at Fair Grounds is one of the best in our circuit and I feel like the timing for the Derby is probably the best because it’s six weeks out.”

Mr. Money was bred in Kentucky by Spruce Lane Farm and was bought for $130,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale where he was consigned by Woods Edge Farm. He is out of the Tiznow broodmare Plenty O’Toole, whose grand dam O’Toole is a half-sister to 2009 Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed. He is also from the same family as American Patriot, a Grade I winner on turf.

Bred in Kentucky by Don Ladd, By My Standards is out of the graded stakes placed Muqtarib broodmare A Jealous Woman and was bought for $150,000 from the consignment barn of Scanlon Training & Sales.