News and STORIES

Silver Dust, By My Standards Take On Fearless In New Orleans Classic

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday March 18, 2020
Trainer Bret Calhoun has two of his graded stake winners, SIlver Dust and By My Standards, set to go up against Fearless in the $400,000 New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 21. 

Both runners are prepared well, and the Fair Grounds surface is favorable. Silver Dust and By My Standards are coming off victories in 1 1/16-mile races, which were timed within .35 of a second of each other. 

"So maybe you'd give the edge to Silver Dust 'cause it's his third race off a layoff and By My Standards' second race off a layoff," Calhoun said. "But then you go out there and watch By My Standards breeze, and you think, 'Oh my god, how are they going to beat him?' It's going to be a really fun race."

Others in the Field

Silver Dust, By My Standards, and Fearless are not the only competition in the race. The field also includes stakes winners Lone Sailor, Sonneteer, Tenfold, and Captivating Moon.

Chess Chief, a recent Fair Grounds allowance-level winner, along with twice stakes-placed Gun It and Fearless, Todd Pletcher's 2-for-2 gelding who is moving into the major stakes ranks, will be running as well. 

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the New Orleans Classic a record six times. He took the race with Master Command (2007), Circular Quay (2008), Battle Plan (2010), Mission Impazible (2011), Graydar (2013), and Palace Malice (2014). 

The race was a handicap during those times, but it is now a stakes run under allowance conditions. That is common for former handicaps at Churchill Downs Incorporated-owned tracks. 

Silver Dust, the winner of the Feb. 15 Mineshaft Stakes (G3), will carry high weight of 122 pounds, He will spot the eight other runners four pounds. Silver Dust also scored the West Virginia Governor's Stakes (G3) and Mineshaft in 2019.

At the Jan. 18 Louisiana Stakes (G3), he crossed the wire first but was forced to give it up after a post-race positive test. It was reported that there was a presence of levamisole, which can be found in deworming products. 

In 2019, he finished second in the New Orleans Classic, where Core Beliefs beat him by three-quarters of a length. 

Brian Hernandez Jr. will be the jockey for the 6-year-old son of Tapit. 

Allied Racing Stable's By My Standards has not had the same level of experience as 26-time starter Silver Dust, but he has run in some big races. He took the Louisiana Derby (G2) last year and finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). 

He had to recover for the rest of the year from a quarter-crack injury. 

He came back to run in a second-level allowance Feb. 9, and the 4-year-old son of Goldencents won that race by six lengths under regular rider Gabe Saez. He breezed a half-mile in :47 2/5 March 14. 


The one to beat in the 1 1/8-mile race will likely be China Horse Club and Winstar Farm's Fearless. In each of his two victories, he has shown speed. Recently, he completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.13. 

"He's a really big horse," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He just was immature, and we had him a couple times and had to stop on him for some minor physical setbacks that kind of go along with being such a big horse. He was finally able to put it all together. 

"I thought he was courageous in his debut to win sprinting, and then he improved a great deal stretching out, so we're going right to a stakes. I think he'll handle the 1 1/8 miles. He has good tactical speed, and he seems to be improving a little bit all the time, watching him train."

Fearless is a 4-year-old gelding by Ghostzapper. He will be joined by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.