By Dick Downey
Updated 7:51 p.m. ET
Crazy things happen in horse racing, and the 2012 Grade II Louisiana Derby was one such example with Hero Of Order winning at odds of 109-1.
Paying $220.80, $79.20 and $25.40 Hero of Order finished the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:50.13. The $220.80 win price was the largest ever in the history of the Louisiana Derby and the largest this meet, which closed today.
Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko, who said Hero of Order is a $3,000 horse, was asked after the race if the Kentucky Derby is his next stop. He said, "Of course."
One issue is that Hero of Order wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown. Dorochenko's Raut LLC has one more opportunity to make the horse eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby, but there's a catch. Supplemental nominations can be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, May 2 at a cost of $200,000. However, preference will be given in the Derby to horses made eligible during the early and late nomination phases over supplemental nominees.
Hero of Order took home $600,000 by winning the $1 million Louisiana Derby. Added to $15,500 graded stakes earnings he won in the Grade III Lecomte and Grade II Risen Star, Hero of Order has $615,500 graded cash.
Mark Valeski, who loomed on the far turn as the post-time favorite, came into the race with $60,000 graded money and exited it with $260,000. The late-running Rousing Sermon, who was in eighth place after six furlongs, picked up $100,000, pushing his graded earnings total to $270,000. Cigar Street was running in a graded stakes race for the first time and pocketed $40,000.
The remaining order of finish, and earnings made in the race: Shared Property ($20,000), Windsurfer ($10,000), Afford ($10,000), Z Dager ($10,000), Fire Alarm ($10,000), Finnegans Wake, Flashy Sunrise, Mr. Bowling and Comisky's Humor. Arm Force was scratched from the original field of 14.
Mark Valeski was the only horse in the race listed as an individual entry in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. At the close of the wager on Sunday, he was listed at 34-1 odds off a 30-1 morning line.
Hero of Order, ridden by new jockey Eddie Martin, Jr., had a perfect trip tracking pacesetter Comisky's Humor, a $1,200 horse himself, through initial fractions of :23.39, :47.27 and 1:11.55. On the far turn, Hero of Order grabbed the lead and scooted out to a 1 1/2-length margin with a mile run in 1:36.66. Not to be denied, he held off a late bid by Mark Valeski to prevail by a half-length.
Rousing Sermon got up late to get third, beaten two lengths and a nose in front of Cigar Street, who had been in third position in the first turn, backstretch and second turn.
The time of the race was moderate if compared to that of Nate's Mineshaft, who won the 1 1/8-mile, Grade II Louisiana Handicap for older horses earlier in the day in 1:47.64. However, that was a track record, and Nate's Mineshaft won by 7 1/2 lengths.
Hero of Order entered the race with a record of one win in 13 starts. He was fifth in the Grade III Lecomte and fourth, beaten six lengths by Mark Valeski, in the Grade II Risen Star after setting the pace. Most recently, he finished second in the Black Gold Stakes at about 7 1/2 furlongs on the Fair Grounds turf. That was on March 10.
According to Equibase, going into the Louisiana Derby, Raut LLC has had 105 starters this year with total earnings of $163,333, eight wins, four seconds and 14 thirds.
Dorochecnko told track officials that he has one previous stakes win, the 2011 $60,000 Hatoof Stakes at Arlington Park with Santina Dond.
It is the first Louisiana Derby win for Eddie Martin Jr., a New Orleans native who has one leading rider title at the 2001-2002 Fair Grouds meeting.
Hero of Order is a son of Sharp Humor out of Ocean Sprite, by Ocean Crest. He was foaled on March 21, 2009 and was bred in Kentucky by Wind Hill Farm. He is, as Dorochenko said, a $3,000 horse. He was bought at the Keeneland September 2009 Yearling Sale. He's worth a lot more than that now.
Hero of Order had $57,277 total earnings before the Louisiana Derby.
Owner and Trainer Genadi Dorochenko: “We run horses together, Eddie and me. I told him exactly what he wants to do, he do it and he wins. Eddie is best jockey. We are around horses together, I give him chance. A lot of jockeys have ridden him and everything, but he do exactly what I tell him, he wins. You see, I bought not expensive horses but I make these horses expensive.”
Eddie Martin Jr., rider of Hero of Order: “Well, he told me just to ride him, and it worked. I was surprised I didn’t get pressured more than I did. 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.”
Trainer Larry Jones, Mark Valeski: “We got a good trip. We laid up, we came around Cigar Street when we got ready, and it looked like we got into the race easy enough. We’ve been running against (Hero Of Order) all meet with something, I guess it was his turn. I don’t know if it will get us enough graded earnings. If we didn’t make it, then it tells us we don't belong.”
Rosie Napravnik, aboard Mark Valeski, second: “He ran great. He tries hard. That other horse may have been counted out, but he runs well every time he runs. (Mark Valeski is) a lightly raced horse. I still have confidence going forward. He’s a hard-knocking horse, and he ran very well.”
Jerry Hollendorfer by phone, Rousing Sermon, third: “He had a good effort. Mike said he lost momentum. I don’t know. We were back far enough, and we had to go wide. It probably gives us enough earnings, but I’ll have to confer with the owners. Distance is no problem for this horse. That’s the difficult part for me. I know this is a good horse, but do we want to push on or maybe find a spot to win a race and then look at a race like the Belmont? I think he wants as much ground as they run horses on.”
Trainer Steve Margolis, Cigar Street, fourth: “We ran back in 22 days and led him over there trained and ready. But we were playing catch-up with a lack of seasoning and experience, but he really impressed us. He gave it his all. He got a little tired late, but he dug in and just got beat for third.... No disgrace and we’re proud of him. He had some trouble in his maiden race, and we asked him to do a lot. Everyone gets excited because we knew if we ran first or second, we would have the earnings, but we have a whole year ahead of us. We’re very happy. We’ll ship back to Churchill Downs tomorrow and look for a race in five or six weeks.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, up on Cigar Street: “I thought he ran hard. He tried every step of the way. He traveled well. I thought he ran a gallant race. For a lightly raced horse running against experienced horses I thought he ran well.”
John Velazquez, Windsurfer, sixth: “He came on nice, he’s just a little immature horse. It’s a shame we couldn't run somewhere else and get more experience and look at the Derby. Eventually he’s going to be a very nice horse. He was inside, he was running well the whole way around, but I had to squeeze him a little bit, and he was looking around. So he’s still a little immature. He’s going to be a really nice horse though.”