Giant Extremes - by Lenny Shulman

(Originally published in the June 16, 2012 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)

by Lenny Shulman

Participants in the Thoroughbred industry often speak of the highest highs and the lowest lows that they experience during the course of their years in the businesses of racing and breeding horses.

But the Parbhoo family experienced both extremes in the space of two hours June 9 at Belmont Park when Trinniberg won the $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) two races after Giant Ryan broke down in the True North Handicap (gr. II) and was fighting for his life with multiple fractures.

“The emotions are very bittersweet,” said Shivananda Parbhoo, who owns the horses that are trained by his father, Bisnath. “Giant Ryan is the love of the family. You’re not supposed to let yourself get too close to the horses, but you fall in love with them. To see what happened today is extremely devastating for every single one of us.”

Several dozen members of the family flooded the winner’s circle after Trinniberg rebounded from an unplaced Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) effort to take the Stephens while flashing the kind of speed that makes him look unbeatable going seven furlongs. The son of Teuflesberg has now won three graded stakes at that distance, having earlier this season taken the Bay Shore Stakes and Swale Stakes (both gr. III) following an unplaced effort in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint last November. In the Run for the Roses, Trinniberg ran second for the first mile before fading.

“I told (jockey) Willie (Martinez) in the Derby that if he got to the quarter pole and didn’t have any horse left, just don’t go on with him,” said Parbhoo, 47. “Now we will keep him short because I don’t think any other 3-year-old can match him at this distance.”

Parbhoo said he was 6 years old when he started gambling at his local racetrack in the two island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where his father trained. The family came to the United States 20 years ago, and its participation in a trucking business allowed them to enter the world of Thoroughbreds. Bisnath Parboo started in the U.S. as an owner, then took out his trainer’s license in 2007, but was not an overnight success. It took him nearly 100 races before he got to the winner’s circle. But by 2010 his horses had earned well over $1 million, and he has developed stakes winners Exclusively Maria, Giant Ryan, and Trinniberg, the latter of whom came to the family fold in a most unusual set of circumstances.

Shivananda was in Ocala to buy supplies but arrived before the store opened and he needed to kill time, so he wandered over to the 2011 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April 2-year-old auction.

“My hand was on the door handle to leave the sale, and I looked back at the ring and said, ‘Wait, I like this horse,’ ” Parbhoo said. “I didn’t know anything about him; didn’t know who his mother or father were; had no idea how he breezed. Nothing. I just started bidding, and we got him for $21,000. I didn’t have a checkbook with me. I sent someone back the next day with the money. The horse is fantastic.”

Trinniberg has now won four of nine races and nearly $600,000. The next goal is the Foxwoods King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga at an ideal seven furlongs.

Giant Ryan, however, sustained multiple sesamoid fractures June 9 and is fighting for his life. The New York-bred son of Freud was good enough to take the Vosburgh Invitational (gr. I) last October and the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) last summer. He faded in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and finished fifth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I) after setting the pace. Said Shivananda Parbhoo after the Stephens, “Even though we won this race, I am thinking about ‘Ryan,’ and it is very sad. We don’t know how it will end up.”

Parbhoo said the horse would go to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for surgery.

The father and son have different spellings of their last name because of a typographical error in the paperwork when they immigrated to the U.S. The ‘h’ was mistakenly left out of Bisnath’s last name.

“This is a family operation, and it has always been,” Parbhoo said while many of the younger members of the family skirted around the winner’s circle following the Stephens trophy presentation. “My father knows a lot about horses from being with them in Trinidad. We came here and eventually could afford the horses a little bit, and here we are.”

Bisnath Parboo is based at Calder Casino & Race Course in Florida with about 20 head. He was the leading trainer by wins and his son the leading owner by wins at Calder’s 2010 Tropical meeting. Bisnath has trained 565 winners in his career that have earned $2.7 million in purses and has taken 11 of 56 races so far in 2012, good for just under $700,000 in earnings.


Leave a Comment:


I really hope that Giant Ryan can be saved.  He is a good horse and I pray every night for he and his connections.

12 Jun 2012 4:11 PM
Criminal Type

I read a little while ago that Giant Ryans surgery is being delayed while they (the vet's at New Bolton's Widener clinic) work on restoring the blood flow to his lower leg. Apparently there is a problem with the blood supply which surprises me not at all. I saw the race, it was brutal. It's always heartbreaking when a horse goes down in a race. Sadly, this is not good news for Giant Ryan. If they can't get the blood flow restored, the surgery is pointless. Sending best wishes to the Parhboos and Giant Ryan.

12 Jun 2012 4:16 PM

I'm heartbroken to read the comment from Criminal Type. I've been checking for updates on Giant Ryan daily but had seen nothing further. I will be praying that they can get him turned around. It is so devastating when any horse suffers this kind of injury. Barbaro broke my heart into a million pieces.

12 Jun 2012 5:00 PM

My thoughts are with Giant Ryan, joining so many others, hoping that the folks at New Bolton can make magic happen.

The break down was brutal to watch, but, in a way, shows how the jockeys and horses are so much more than a "get on, ride, get off" pair.  In the head-on replay that NBC showed, you can see Jockey Willie Martinez trying his best to pull him up safely, and then jumps off to one side as Giant Ryan goes down.  The outrider is coming up from behind.  Did Martinez leave Giant Ryan?  Or just stand and watch?  No.  As soon as Martinez hit the ground he turned around and headed back to his horse, to be there to catch his head as he tried to rise.  To try to prevent more damage, to try to comfort him as the strangers in the van came to him.

I wish the people campaigning against horse racing could see that and understand.........

12 Jun 2012 6:27 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for the read. Have you any any new info regarding Giant Ryan?

12 Jun 2012 6:31 PM
Criminal Type

Mike, Google Giant Ryan, you can read the most recent statement from Dr Richardson @ New Bolton.

12 Jun 2012 7:21 PM

Also wishing the best for Giant Ryan.

12 Jun 2012 8:07 PM
Karen in Texas

It was a graphic breakdown, but that outrider was coming ASAP, as slee noted. To make it even more poignant, I read that Giant Ryan is named after one of the children in the family. Dr. Richardson and New Bolton will do everything possible, I'm sure.

Mike----The Paulick Report had updated information a few hours ago. It pretty much said what Criminal Type posted above.

12 Jun 2012 8:54 PM

I was at the paddock area and not in my seat when Giant Ryan went down.  By the time I got back, the next race was in progress.  My friends knew I would freak out because I have followed Giant Ryan the past few years, and didn't tell me what happened (they knew I'd find out soon enough). His connections seem like nice people. I hope they do right by the horse, whatever that may be.

12 Jun 2012 8:54 PM
Mike Relva



12 Jun 2012 11:51 PM

I read this evening that the delay is to clear blood clots.  That, to me, sounds pretty good.  It is a tough injury, but he is still here and being treated.

13 Jun 2012 12:02 AM

Prayers for Giant Ryan and his connections.  Ryan is in very good hands, as we all know...can't beat the dedication and expertise of Dr. Richardson.

13 Jun 2012 8:21 AM

It never gets any easier to hear about these tragic injuries that befall our thoroughbreds, so sad. God speed to Giant Ryan, my prayers go out to you.

13 Jun 2012 8:49 AM
Dawn in MN

My sympathy goes out to the owners, trainers, and grooms.  Everyone who loved Giant Ryan has my gratitude.  I offer my utmost thanks for racing this beautiful horse.  Here's to those who spent time loving him each day he was here.

17 Jun 2012 8:11 PM
Mike Relva

RIP Giant Ryan

17 Jun 2012 8:12 PM
The Deacon

Lenny: You write with such passion and clarity I wish you would write regular blogs much like Steve does. Maybe you do and I missed them. Keep up the great work, we need you in this business. I love your enthusiasm and voice.........

18 Jun 2012 2:29 AM
Ida Lee

We lost that beautiful creature Giant Ryan to laminitis the same disease that eventually took our beloved Barbaro. Dr. Richardson has been through this heartache numerous times. The fans of these incredible animals love them too and it's like losing a good friend and in some cases, a beloved friend. RIP Beautiful Boy. We will miss you so much. P.S. We also just lost Yawanna Twist. It gets harder and harder every time you lose one of these precious animals.

18 Jun 2012 4:10 PM

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Parbhoo family and all the connections of Giant Ryan. I was watching the race when he faltered and saw briefly that he was down, but NBC chose not to show more. I don't care if a horse is a graded stakes winner or a never-winner. They do not deserve to die on the track or be so severely injured that they are put down later. Racing must do all it can to ensure the safety of all horses and riders on racetracks. Also, I pray for a cure for laminitis, a disease that can come on so quickly and destroys the lives of so many horses. RIP, Giant Ryan.

19 Jun 2012 9:49 PM
Mike Relva


Totally agree!

22 Jun 2012 11:16 AM

This truely is a game of vicissitudes.

22 Jun 2012 6:42 PM

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