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