No fooling, 109-1 shot Hero of Order won the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) April 1 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).
Favored Mark Valeski had every opportunity to win but could not close the deal in deep stretch, allowing lightly regarded Hero of Order to prevail by a half-length with Eddie Martin Jr. aboard for the first time on closing day of the 2011-12 season at the New Orleans track. Hero of Order paid an eye-popping $220.80, $79.80, and $25.40 across the board. It was a record win payoff for the Louisiana Derby.
Mark Valeski finished second by 1 1/2 lengths, with California invader Rousing Sermon rallying for third by a nose over Cigar Street.
Hero of Order came into the race with one win in 13 starts and raced for as little as $25,000 as a maiden at Hawthorne last fall.
The winning son of Sharp Humor is trained by Russian-born former jockey Gennadi Dorochenko, who also owns the colt under the name Raut LLC. The dark bay sold for $3,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2010. Wind Hill Farm bred Hero of Order, who is out of Ocean Sprite, by obscure sire Ocean Crest.
Hero of Order ran fourth in Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Feb. 25, beaten by six lengths, hardly an embarrassment. That race was won by El Padrino, who nosed out Mark Valeski, part of the 3-2 favored entry in Louisiana Derby. El Padrino came back to run a lackluster fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) March 31.
In his last start prior to the Louisiana Derby, Hero of Order finished second after setting the pace in the March 10 Black Gold Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on a yielding Fair Grounds turf course. He was disqualified and placed fourth, however, after drifting out late and causing interference.
It took Hero of Order nine starts to break his maiden and he then went into stakes company, finishing fifth after pressuring the pace in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 21. He has won twice in seven tries at Fair Grounds.
“We run horses together, Eddie (Martin) and me," said Dorochenko in reference to Martin. "I told him exactly what (Hero of Order) wants to do; he do and he wins. Eddie is best jockey. We are around horses together, I give him chance. A lot of jockeys have ridden (Hero of Order) and everything but he do exactly what I tell him, he wins.
“You see, I brought not expensive horses but I make these horses expensive,” added Dorochenko, who won his first graded stakes race.
Hero of Order completed the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby in a slow time of 1:50.13 on a hot and sultry day in New Orleans. It's unlikely that Hero of Order is headed for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) since he is not nominated. It would cost $200,000 to nominate and he could only get into the field if less than the maximum 20 nominated horses are to be entered.
He was prominent throughout, racing second early while pushing the pacesetter Comisky's Humor through fractions of :23.39 and :47.27. Windsurfer and Cigar Street were also close to the leaders as Mark Valeski rated just behind on the outside in the field of 13 3-year-olds.
Hero of Order pulled his way to the lead on the far turn, reaching the three-eighths pole in 1:11.55 and turned for home with the advantage over Cigar Street and the steadily advancing Mark Valeski.
Mark Valeski passed Cigar Street in the lane and had dead aim on Hero of Order to his inside as they reached mid-stretch with Hero of Order 1 1/2 lengths in front. However, Mark Valeski, under encouragement from Rosie Napravnik, could not reach even terms with Hero of Order, who was slowing down but still plugging away under strong right-handed urging from Martin. And that's the way they went right to the wire in front of a stunned Fair Grounds crowd.
"I was surprised I didn’t get pressured more than I did," said Martin after his first Louisiana Derby victory. "You know, I had my target in front of me and he just let me inherit the lead around the turn and off we went.”
Hero of Order earned $600,000 for the win, boosting his career bankroll to $657,277 with a record of 2-1-2 in 14 races.
With the field under equal weights of 122 pounds, he topped a $2 exacta of $491.80 with Mark Valeski, who returned $3.40 and $2.80 as part of a Brereton C. Jones-owned entry along with Lecomte winner Mr. Bowling. Rousing Sermon, fifth in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) in his most recent start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, paid $4.60 to show and rounded out a $2 trifecta worth $7,812. The superfecta with second choice Cigar Street fourth was $16,326.20 for a $2 wager.
Shared Property was fifth, followed by Windsurfer, Afford, Z Dager, Fire Alarm, Finnegans Wake, Flashy Sunrise, Mr. Bowling, and Comisky's Humor. Arm Force was scratched.