(Originally published in the March 31, 2012 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
By Jim Freer
For several days in early March, 6-year-old Ryan Parbhoo kept asking family members, “Do you have my ticket to Dubai yet?”
He had a special reason for that question because Giant Ryan, his family’s graded stakes-winning sprinter, is named after him.
The answer on tickets to Dubai is “yes” for Giant Ryan, young Ryan, and approximately 20 other members of the family of his grandfather, trainer Bisnath Parboo.
Giant Ryan is entered in the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse. The $2 million race is part of the March 31 World Cup program.
“We wouldn’t be going if we didn’t think we had a good chance to win,” said Shivananda Parbhoo, Bisnath’s son and listed owner of most of the family’s horses,
Giant Ryan won two graded stakes last year to cap a six-race winning streak. The Golden Shaheen will be the first start of the year for the 6-year-old New York-bred son of Freud—Kheyrah, by Dayjur.
Having a horse in a Dubai World Cup race is the latest achievement in the family’s rise to prominence in the sport over the last two years. It began in late 2010 when they were the surprising winners of the trainer and owner titles at the Tropical meet at Calder Casino & Race Course in South Florida. Last summer and fall they hit the national spotlight with the graded stakes success of Giant Ryan and Trinniberg.
Those who encountered the Parbhoos in their travels found out something that Mike Anifantis, Calder’s racing secretary, learned when they arrived at the southeast Florida track in 2010.
“They are the nicest people you will ever meet,” Anifantis said. “Right away, I could see that they ran a quality operation. They take care of business, they keep a very clean stable, and they run in races that are the best spots for their horses.”
The Parbhoos own and train 17 horses, all stabled at Calder.
One of the first things anyone asks about the Parbhoos is why Bisnath spells his last name differently from other family members. The answer is that due to a clerical error the “h” was left out of his name upon his arrival in the United States from Trinidad & Tobago.
“I’ll get it fixed sometime,” Bisnath said.
Meanwhile, he is busy with racing, which has been a big part of his life in his native country and later in the United States.
He was born in 1939 and often went to racetracks with his father, Vatoon, who was a businessman and a Thoroughbred owner in Trinidad & Tobago. Bisnath was a trainer for several years on that island nation near Venezuela.
“But I never had the best horses and never won any stakes,” he said.
The family moved to the U.S. in 1982, when Shivananda was 17, and settled in the New York City area. The Parbhoos started a trucking business, and Bisnath remained in racing as an owner. He took out a New York trainer’s license in 2007.
By then, many of the younger family members had moved to the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, and Shivananda had relocated the trucking business to that market. Bisnath moved to South Florida in 2010 and relocated his stable from Belmont Park to Calder.
He attributes his early success at Calder to a level of day-to-day competition that is less intense than at Belmont and Aqueduct.
Giant Ryan also benefited from the move to Florida.
He had raced only six times through 2010 because of problems with fungus on his feet.
A new team of veterinarians and blacksmith Avelo Sigmundo helped Giant Ryan overcome those problems. Last year he won the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) at Calder and the Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont.
Giant Ryan finished eighth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 5. The Parbhoos later discovered he had run with a respiratory infection.
Trinniberg finished second in two graded stakes last year. In his 2012 debut he won the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
The colt’s name is a combination of Trinidad and Teufelsberg, his sire.
The Parbhoos do their own buying, usually at sales conducted by the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. or in private purchases.
“When owners ask us about training their horses, we nicely tell them ‘no,’” Shivananda said on a recent morning at his family’s Calder barn. “They sometimes want you to go into a race that is not right for the horse and you can’t argue with them,” he added. “If Pops (Bisnath) and I disagree about something, we talk about it and work it out.”
They have been in firm agreement about the training and racing of Giant Ryan—and that horse has taken them on a road from Calder to Churchill Downs and now to Dubai.