01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Trinniberg

photo by: Tom Keyser

Shivananda Parbhoo had high hopes for Trinniberg’s 3-year-old season – and rightly so – after his speedster had finished second in both the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 2 Nashua at 2. He just wasn’t aiming quite as high as competing in the Kentucky Derby, being in the winner’s circle on Breeders’ Cup Day, and potentially standing at the podium at this year’s Eclipse Award ceremonies to accept the honor for training the champion sprinter of 2012.

Trinniberg, a son of Teuflesberg bred by J M Stables Inc., gave an early indication that 2012 might be special when he opened his year with one-sided victories in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Swale and Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Bay Shore.

Parbhoo thought enough of Trinniberg at that point to take the ultimate shot, running him in the Kentucky Derby even though his horse had never raced beyond seven furlongs. As expected, Trinniberg had little left in the tank after forcing Bodemeister’s pace for seven-eighths of a mile, fading to the rear of the pack while being eased to the finish line by regular rider Willie Martinez.

“I have no regrets about trying him in the Derby,” said Parbhoo, who assumed full training duties for Trinniberg from his father, Bisnath Parboo, during the summer, and is the father of the colt’s owner, Sherry Parbhoo. “The race just didn’t unfold the way we thought it would. We never expected Bodemeister would go to the lead. I thought we’d control the pace a little better. Willie was under instructions to just make sure he got home safely if he had to ask the horse leaving the quarter pole, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Not only did Trinniberg emerge from his 17th-place finish in the Derby unscathed, he came back stronger than ever. Five weeks later, Trinniberg vanned from his home base at Calder to Belmont to win the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, a breakthrough performance as far as Parbhoo was concerned.

“I knew he would win stakes races this year,” said Parbhoo. “But after he won that race in New York, I actually started thinking he could be a Breeders’ Cup contender.”

Trinniberg sandwiched a pair of narrow losses at Calder and Parx around a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga. But even a three-race losing streak did not shatter Parbhoo’s faith in his horse.

“He lost his left hind shoe in the King’s Bishop, and Willie said he wasn’t balanced properly,” said Parbhoo. “I didn’t think that was enough of an excuse for him tiring the last furlong the way he did. But I couldn’t find anything else wrong and we went over him with a fine-tooth comb after the race.”

Parbhoo put blinkers back on Trinniberg for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and his colt responded with the race of his life, disputing a 43-and-change opening half-mile before showing the heart and determination of a champion to hold off The Lumber Guy and register a three-quarter-length victory.  

“I knew he’d be on the lead in the Breeders’ Cup, and I added the blinkers to help him stay more focused,” said Parbhoo. “I had a lot of confidence he’d run a big race, but the field was very strong, and to actually win, that was unbelievable.”