Speedy Giant Ryan Tries the all-weather track for First Time in Dubai Golden Shaheen

A winner of six straight races in the United States including the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park before having that skein stopped with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs last November, Shivananda Parbhoo’s Giant Ryan will be making his first start since that defeat on Saturday when he challenges a world-class field of 12 including defending champion Rocket Man in the Group 1 US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News.
Trained by the owner’s father, Biznath Parboo, both trainer and owner, father and son, are quick to dismiss the lackluster run by the son of Freud in the Breeders’ Cup.
“I really expected him to run a lot better than that,” Parbhoo said. “After the race, we had him scoped and we saw that he had a respiratory infection. He wasn’t showing any signs of distress before the race. He didn’t stop eating, but he clearly had already had the infection.”
The elder Parboo concurred and said, “I expect him to run 110% better here. When he’s 100%, he knows how to do just one thing – win. When he gets into that starting stall, he knows what he has to do.”
During Giant Ryan’s six-race winning streak, the now six-year-old horse won races over four different tracks – the inner dirt track at Aqueduct, the main dirt track at Aqueduct, a sloppy main track at Belmont Park and the dirt oval at his home base of Calder Racecourse.
As trainer Parboo noted, the versatile horse can win when racing from off the pace, when running from just behind the leaders or when running on the lead - so how the race plays out Saturday doesn’t seem to faze the trainer.

The biggest question mark remains as to whether Giant Ryan will take to Meydan’s all-weather surface when the gates are sprung at 7:35 UAE time Saturday evening.
So far he seems to be taking to the going in his morning routine – which has mostly consisted of one circuit jogging followed by a second circuit galloping at bit of quicker clip. On Tuesday, the exercise rider blew out the horse the final 200m. Willie Martinez, who last rode Giant Ryan when winning a minor stakes race at Calder last June, will have the mount Saturday.
Giant Ryan, representing the first starter in Dubai for both the trainer and the owner, is probably flying under the radar in the Dubai Golden Shaheen and that’s just fine by his connections.
Biznath Parboo, 72, is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, who went to the United States in 1972. He trains strictly for his family – son Shivananda and granddaughter Sherry – though he pointed out when queried on the subject, “I get asked to train for others all the time.”
As for the different spelling of the surname by father and son, Biznath Parboo explains that when renewing a visa “many years ago,” the ‘h’ was left off. The rest of the family uses the preferred spelling of the name – Parbhoo.
Shivananda Parbhoo felt as soon as they acquired Giant Ryan as a two-year-old that he had found a special horse and that “he looked like a champion.”
Even though he broke slow in that first start, he passed all but three in the 10 horse field and then broke his maiden by five lengths the next time out and then won an allowance race just two weeks after that.
Once he found his niche as a five-year-old last season, the New York-bred rattled off six straight. Despite winning the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder in July 2011, he was largely ignored in the Vosburgh – a race he won wire-to-wire digging in after a fierce stretch battlewith Force Freeze to prevail by a half a length.
The Breeders’ Cup disappointment followed, but after getting some time off he’s been working steadily with the Dubai Golden Shaheen as his specific early season target –so much so that a planned excursion to run in New York was scrapped at the last minute as soon as the team knew they had secured an invitation to Dubai.
“He’s 100% fit and happy,” Parboo said. “He couldn’t be doing any better.”
Giant Ryan has provided quite a ride for both owner and trainer.
“This is a dream come true,” said owner Shivananda Parbhoo. “It’s unbelievable.”
“Everyone here has treated us so well,” added Biznath Parboo.
This is a team on a mission and it would be wise to not overlook Giant Ryan in the 1,200m race.