Equibase Analysis: By My Standards Poised To Run Down Knicks Go

The number seven is rampant in the 2021 edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Stakes, as each of the five entrants possesses seven career victories. Combined, the field has won 35 of 70 races for more than $12 million career earnings. Leading the group is Knicks Go, who has made a career of taking the lead at the start and running his competitors off their feet while coasting home in front in the final eighth of a mile. Using his early speed, Knicks Go has won five of his last six North American starts, most recently the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at the distance of the Whitney.

Next in accomplishments is the filly Swiss Skydiver, winner of the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes against males last fall and winner of the Grade 1 Beholder Mile earlier this year. Maxfield has only been defeated one time in eight career starts and enters the Whitney off strong victories in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes and in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes, also at the distance of this race. Silver State has also won two graded stakes in a row starting with the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April at this nine-furlong trip, followed up by a win in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in June. Last but certainly not least in this strong quintet is By My Standards¸ runner-up in the 2020 Whitney and winner of the Oaklawn Mile Stakes in April before a runner-up effort in the Metropolitan Handicap. 

Owing to the heavy favoritism Knicks Go will receive from bettors, I’m going to opt for By My Standards to post the upset in this year’s Whitney Stakes. Winner of the 2019 Louisiana Derby and well-regarded in the Kentucky Derby that year, By My Standards had little chance in the Derby after getting squeezed back at the start and losing position. Sitting out the balance of 2019, By My Standards returned as a 4-year-old last year and won three races in a row including both the New Orleans Classic Stakes and Oaklawn Handicap before a big runner-up effort behind Tom’s d’Etat in the 2020 Stephen Foster Stakes. Next came a career best effort with a 113  Equibase Speed Figure when second behind Improbable in the 2020 Whitney. He ran poorly last fall in two races but just as he did to start 2020, By My Standards started 2021 with a bang, first winning the Oaklawn Mile in April before a runner-up effort in the Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) in June. Although second in the Met Mile, By My Standards may have been best as he brushed the gate at the start, was soundly bumped back to last of six and was wide on the turn. Nevertheless, By My Standards rallied and was beaten just one length at the finish by Silver State. Now having finished first or second in five of six career starts at this mile and one-eighth distance, with a clean break By My Standards can post the upset win in this year’s Whitney by running as well as he did in last year’s edition of the race.

That being said, By My Standards must run down Knicks Go in the stretch to win. There’s a saying in racing that  “speed is the ultimate bias,” and with Knicks Go that is a fact. Brilliant as a 2-year-old when winning the Breeders’ Futurity in the fall of 2019, Knicks Go went off form but got his brilliant speed back after moving to the barn of Brad Cox over the winter of 2020. Reeling off three wins in a row including the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last fall, Knicks Go won the Pegasus World Cup Invitational this past January with a strong 115  figure just one point shy of the career best 116 figure earned three months earlier. Following uncharacteristically poor fourth-place finishes in the Saudi Cup and Metropolitan Mile, Knicks Go showed all his speed, and talent, winning the Cornhusker Handicap last month at the distance of the Whitney and could prove impossible to catch once again.

Maxfield has been nearly perfect in his career, winning seven of eight races. His only loss came when trying 1 1/4 miles in the Santa Anita Handicap in March, perhaps just a bit farther than he wants to run. In his only try at the nine-furlong distance of the Whitney¸ Maxfield easily won the Stephen Foster Stakes in his most recent start near the end of June, earning a 107 figure. Perhaps he didn’t have to run any faster, because two months earlier when winning the Alysheba Stakes, Maxfield earned a career-best 115 figure which stands up as nearly the same as the best figures of the top contenders in this field. It must also be noted that jockey Jose Ortiz is a perfect five-for-five when riding Maxfield, compared to four-for-five for Joel Rosario (Knicks Go) and seven-for-14 for Gabriel Saez (By My Standards). 

In terms of probability, both Silver State and the filly Swiss Skydiver can’t be ruled out. Silver State earned a 113 figure winning the Oaklawn Handicap in April at the distance of the Whitney before a game victory in the Metropolitan Handicap, while Swiss Skydiver already proved capable of beating males in last year’s Preakness (111 figure) and won the Beholder Mile in March off a layoff similar to the one she’s coming off today. Notably, North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides Swiss Skydiver for the first time and the jockey is in a pitched battle with his brother Jose for the coveted Saratoga riding title, with the brothers having won 24 races each through Wednesday and one behind leading jockey Luis Saez. 

Win Contenders, in preference order:
By My Standards
Knicks Go

Whitney Stakes – Grade 1
Race 10 at Saratoga
Saturday, August 7 – Post Time 5:48 PM E.T.
One Mile and One Eighth
4-Year-Olds and Upward
Purse: $1 Million

Ellis Starr is national racing analyst for Equibase

The post Equibase Analysis: By My Standards Poised To Run Down Knicks Go appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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