Craig Bandoroff established well-known sales consignment company Denali Stud in 1990 and has since sold more than $403 million in bloodstock. Denali, situated on 700 acres in Central Kentucky, consistently ranks in the top 20 sellers by gross weanling, broodmare, and yearling sales. Denali graduates include Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Sophisticat, Serena's Tune, Ipi Tombe, and Golden Ballet in addition to several offspring of Serena's Song, who is boarded at Denali.
We tossed him a few questions about life on and off the farm.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
I'd say my biggest lesson in business has been—‘It's a lot harder to stay there than it is to get there.'
My biggest lesson in horse sales is that you can't make somebody like a horse. They either like it or they don't. Clients want you to make people like their horses but it just doesn't work that way.
Do you have a favorite horse among the ones you've sold?
It would be hard to put anybody above Animal Kingdom. He took us some unbelievable places and is as special as any of them. Although we didn't sell her, Serena's Song has been with us a long time and she'd be right up there with them. Obviously there's a very big place in my heart for her.
When you're assessing a horse, is there one thing that sticks out to you as being especially important?
I want a horse to be pretty. I think most good horses have quality. There's that expression ‘Pretty is as pretty does,' but I think every good horse I've ever seen has a look of class or attractiveness or a certain demeanor. I want to see that in a horse.
What do you do when you're not at the sales barn or at the office?
I'm pretty much a family man. I spend time with my family (wife Holly and children Katherine, Conrad, and Isabel). Everybody knows I love to ski so I'm a big skier in the wintertime. Another hobby of mine is fly fishing. My kids are growing up–I only have one left in the nest—but they all played soccer and I never missed too many games, so I'm happy to be able to look back and say that.
What's your favorite vacation spot?
I just got back from Vail, Colo. and that's right up there. Anyplace there's good snow and a little sunshine.
What's at the top of your bucket list?
I'm kind of big on World War II history and I want to go to Normandy and see the American and German graveyards. I've heard that's pretty amazing, so that would be one thing.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
I hate anybody that steals, or doesn't tell the truth.
If you could change one thing about the Thoroughbred industry, what would it be?
That we would have a central authority with some power.
What was the last thing that you Googled?
Somebody just gave me a gift of one of those Fitbits (bracelets that track daily activity, food, weight, and sleep), and I Googled how to use it.
What's playing on your iPod?
My 14-year-old daughter turned me on to Zac Brown, and I really like him.
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