'Plain' Yearling Is Louisiana Derby's 'Hero'
In 2010 the Keeneland September yearling sale in Lexington had 14 sessions. In the 11th, cataloged as Hip No. 3474, was Hero of Order . His appearance in the auction ring attracted little attention. The price he brought was only $3,000.
Many of his kind, if they make it to the races, are destined for unheralded careers. But this colt turned out to be different. At odds of 109-1, the 3-year-old son of Sharp Humor captured the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots April 1.
Hero of Order isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown, but there has been talk of supplementing him following his shocking half-length victory over Mark Valeski.
“He was kind of a tall, plain, brown wrapper,” said Denali Stud’s Craig Bandoroff of Hero of Order when he was younger. “He wasn’t something we said, ‘Oh my Gosh, he’s awesome,’ and he wasn’t something that we looked at and said, ‘Oh my Gosh, he’s horrible.’ He was a solid colt. He got my grade of B. He wasn’t an A and he wasn’t a C. He was pretty straightforward.”
Bandoroff, in the name of Denali, which is near Paris, Ky., sold Hero of Order for his breeder, Howard and Kris Gibbons’ Wind Hill Farm near Shelbyville, Ky. Gennadi Dorochenko, in the name of Raut, bought the dark bay or brown colt.
“The Gibbonses have a small farm and sometimes they have a little trouble handling the colts, so they send them to us to be prepped (for a sale); that was his story,” Bandoroff said. “He came to us around June 1 (in 2010).”
Hero of Order ended up near the end of the Keeneland September catalog because “he was by a horse that was standing for $7,500 (as of 2010 after starting out at $12,500) and he was out of a mare that hadn’t thrown anything (at that time); that’s what happens to those kinds,” Bandoroff said. “It was a time, 2010, when it was tough selling horses; there were more horses than there were people. There’s very little action at the barn at that stage of the sale, and a lot of those horses you’re selling (to people who spot them) in the back walking ring. If they see something they like, they’ll come up to us and maybe ask about vet reports. That guy (Dorochenko) sometimes will ask about a vet report and sometimes he won’t.”
Based on Hero of Order’s low price, Dorochenko faced little competition in the bidding.
“Kris Gibbons is a seller; if you lead them in there for her, she wants to try to sell them, so it wasn’t a case where we were going to try to maximize it (the price),” Bandoroff said. “He (Hero of Order) was a horse that was looking for a new home.”
Donnie Snellings, Denali's yearling and sales manager, was at home on the day of the Louisiana Derby and Hero of Order was far from his mind.
“A buddy of mine was at my house and I was sitting on the back porch,” said Snellings April 2. “He said, ‘Come here, you’ve got to watch this race,' so I went in and watched the Louisiana Derby. I had no idea who the horse was (that won) until Craig told me this morning.”
Snellings hadn’t kept up with Hero of Order’s progress since the sale and didn’t recognize him on television. But once Bandoroff identified him, Snellings was able to recall some things about him.
“He was easy to get along with,” Snellings said. “We didn’t have any trouble with him; he was always nice. He was a big, leggy colt and he was athletic looking; he showed that (his athleticism) in the Louisiana Derby. I couldn’t say he had done anything out of the ordinary until he won that race yesterday.”
Hero of Order has two victories, a second, and two thirds in his 14 career races. Produced from the Ocean Crest mare Ocean Sprite, he has earned $657,277.
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