If you’re looking for a live contender at a solid price in this afternoon’s $750,000 G3 Illinois Derby, you could do worse than Siete de Oros (5-1).

Which you might not have guessed back in early September, before he made his debut.  Back then, he was merely another modest Pennsylvania-bred who’d sold for the princely sum of $2,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall Yearlings sale.  No great surprise: he was a son of A.P. Warrior out of the winning (infrequently, and in claiming company) Crafty Friend mare Crafty Sarah.

We spoke with his breeder, Glenn Brok of Diamond B Farm, about what it’s like to have bred — and then sold — a horse of this caliber.

“There were issues that compromised his sale price,” Brok told me.  “But we always thought he was a nice horse.  And (owner-trainer) Ramon Preciado really liked him from the start, even before he was broken.”

The horse debuted inauspiciously — with a distant fifth-place finish in maiden special weight company — before breaking his maiden against claiming company.  He followed that with an allowance win at Parx and then a third in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes.

It was in his next race — a game second to Vyjack in the G2 Jerome at monster odds — that the horse stamped himself as something different.

I asked Brok if he, like an owner, hooted and hollered while watching races of horses he bred but did not own.  “Just like you would for one of your horses, buddy,” he replied.  In fact, he said, recounting a recent win by the offspring of a stallion he once stood, “I don’t think Joel Rosario could have ridden that horse any harder than Glenn Brok did from the couch.”  [pullquote]I don’t think Joel Rosario could have ridden that horse any harder than Glenn Brok did from the couch.”[/pullquote]

Racing people usually toil in a kind of semi-obscurity, but a good horse can change that, at least for a time.  “It’s pretty cool,” Brok said, “because you think you’re flying under the radar, and then the phone starts ringing and the texts start coming in congratulating you on the horse.  When you’re in this industry, it’s kind of what you’re looking for.”

As for this afternoon’s race, Brok will be just where you’d expect.  “I just got to Ocala, and I’m going to go out now to OBS to watch him run in the race on the simulcast,” he said.

The horse didn’t bring much at sale.  But it’s safe to say that neither the new owner nor the breeder is complaining at all.