06/02/2009 12:00AM

Call it a Cinderella story - in reverse


ALBANY, Calif. - Everyone loves the Cinderellas of horse racing, but for every inexpensive horse that hit it big, there are probably dozens of six- and seven-figure horses who flopped.

One of those Cinderella-in-reverse stories runs Thursday. A $300,000 buy at the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale in February 2008, Heroism runs for a $12,500 claiming tag for the second time in what will be the fifth start of his career. He won his debut on Feb. 3 here, going wire to wire as the odds-on favorite. He finished fourth in a $32,000 optional claiming race on March 22, then raced wide and had nothing in the lane in his next start, which came against similar on April 11.

On April 22, he was entered for $12,500, and lost a stretch duel by a head to Second Hand Lion.

Heroism is trained by Greg Gilchrist, who has had his share of stakes success with horses he bought at auction.

"When you buy horses on any level, whether it's $10,000 or $500,000, you hope you can hit a couple home runs," Gilchrist said. "You go to these sales and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. It probably didn't take a total of two minutes to buy this horse."

Among Gilchrist's home runs is Indyanne, whom he bought for $375,000. She earned $450,000 for David and Jill Heerensperger, the owners of Heroism, and then was sold for $1 million.

Gilchrist admits that Heroism will never bring close to his purchase price, so he has him entered Thursday where he can win - and if he gets claimed, that's fine.

"It's like the stock market," Gilchrist said. "You want to buy low and sell high.

"At this point, it's not about how much he'll make as how much you'll lose. If you get back a dime on a dollar, it's better than losing it all. It's like if I got in a poker game with $1,000. I'd rather leave with $150 so I can go buy dinner. We realized we made a bad buy. The quicker you stop the bleeding the better. I could have dropped him to $50,000 or $32,000, but I realized where he was going to be anyway."

Tribesman returns

There are no stakes races at Golden Gate Fields this weekend, but there will be a stakes-quality race on Friday as Tribesman makes his return. The Kjell Qvale homebred, trained by Roger Hansen, runs for the first time since winning the California Cup Sprint eight months ago.

Also entered in the five-horse field is the multiple stakes winner Siren Lure, who is unbeaten on the main track at Golden Gate since being sent here last fall.

Tribesman has been ready to run for a while. In fact, Hansen said, "I wish this race had been two weeks ago. I bet I've entered him 10 times before it finally filled. I'm glad to get this race."

Hansen has had to train Tribesman without knowing when the horse would be able to run. "I haven't worked his way into the race exactly as I wanted," Hansen said.

Tribesman has strung together a nice series of bullet works, including one at six furlongs, but has had only one easy half-mile work since May 20.

The 5-year-old gelding has won off layoffs before, and he seems capable of opening a quick lead here. Hansen is well aware of how fast Siren Lure finishes, and he is concerned about that.

"The main thing is to get a good race into him," said Hansen, who plans to run Tribesman in the $50,000 Sam Whiting at Pleasanton on July 18.

* Gates open at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Belmont Stakes Day, just in time to wager on the first race from Belmont, which goes at 8:35 a.m. The first live race goes off at 12:15 p.m. There will also be a wine festival, offering a variety of of California wines for $15.