Updated on 09/17/2011 10:52AM

Standard Setter sidelined, but his sire comes off comp list


ARCADIA, Calif. - The excitement surrounding Standard Setter's upset victory in the Golden Gate Derby last month wore off quickly for co-owners Phil Lebherz and Richard Meister and trainer Jeff Bonde.

Before they had a chance to plan his next start, they learned the California-bred Standard Setter would be sidelined until late June with a bone chip in a knee.

Lebherz described the injury as "a flake," but it ended any hopes of continuing on the preps for the Triple Crown.

"He'll be back in June," Lebherz said. "We're not in the running for the Triple Crown. I wish I had better news."

On the positive side, the victory confirmed that Standard Setter has the talent to run well against graded stakes competition. For his stallion, Benchmark, it provided a vital boost. Standard Setter was Benchmark's first stakes winner from his first crop to race.

For the upcoming breeding season, Benchmark will stand for $2,000, live foal, at River Edge Farm in Buellton, Calif. For his first four seasons at stud, he was offered at no charge, according to Russell Drake, the farm's manager.

The success of Standard Setter, and other foals by Benchmark, will lead to a book of 80 to 90 mares this year, Drake said.

"He's getting a lot better book of mares this year," Drake said. "He's always been a horse that has been pretty popular. One of the things that made that was that he was complimentary."

Campaigned by Marty and Pam Wygod, Benchmark won 7 of 16 starts and $636,707. He won three stakes, including the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in 1997.

By Alydar, the 12-year-old Benchmark is out of the Danzig mare Winters' Love, who produced the multiple stakes winner Tranquility Lake.

"He takes more after the female side," Drake said. "He looks more like a Danzig than an Alydar. People have seen enough of his foals that they like him."

The recent setback for Standard Setter is the second time in his seven-race career that he has been sidelined. Last summer, he was taken out of training following a second-place finish in the Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity at Pleasanton.

Bred by Lebherz and Meister, Standard Setter is out of When and Where, whom the partners bought for $5,000 at the Barretts January mixed sale in 2000. At the time, she was a few months from delivering Standard Setter. The mare was later bred to Epic Honor, whom Lebherz and Meister campaigned with Mikel Dodd.

Epic Honor stood three years at stud, but has resumed racing in recent months in northern California.

Standard Setter won a maiden race for $25,000 claimers in his third start last May, and followed with a second in the Malcolm Anderson Stakes at Bay Meadows in June.

He returned to racing in December and made the second start of his comeback in the Golden Gate Derby.

"It was a great day because we bred that horse," Lebherz said. "We actually relished the win. It was such a surprise against a good quality of field. He really showed a lot of heart.

"The injury is really minor. He'll come back just fine."

Lebherz said he would like to run Standard Setter in graded stakes this summer, but there is always the fallback position of California-bred stakes. He even mentioned the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic early next year for California-breds and Florida-breds as a long-term goal. The Sunshine Millions was run for the first time last month at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita.

"We want to get him in a warmup race and then get in graded stakes," he said. "We'd like to pace him, but the Sunshine Millions is a reasonable spot."

In coming months, Lebherz and Meister have several 2-year-olds to follow as well as the stakes-caliber filly Erica's Smile, who finished third in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita in December. Some of their 2-year-olds are from the first crop of Epic Honor.

"It's like spring baseball," Lebherz said of his stable. "Everyone has dreams right now."