06/07/2012 12:02PM

Belmont Park: Giant Ryan back for True North

Barbara D. Livingston
Giant Ryan had his most important victory in the Vosburgh last fall at Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Giant Ryan, the New York-bred horse of the year in 2011, will return to the scene of his finest hour on Saturday when he starts as the 120-pound highweight in the $400,000 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.

Giant Ryan registered the most important victory of his career over a sloppy track at Belmont in October, leading throughout to post a half-length victory over Force Freeze in the Grade 1 Vosburgh. The win was the sixth of the season for Giant Ryan, a son of Freud who also captured the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap over his home base at Calder last summer.

Giant Ryan is owned by Shivananda Parbhoo and trained by his father, Bisnath Parboo. He has started just twice since the Vosburgh, finishing far back after forcing an extremely fast pace in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and fifth after showing the way during the early stages of the Dubai Golden Shaheen in his only outing this season.

Owner and trainer also had the option of running Giant Ryan on Saturday at Calder in the Ponche Handicap, a race he won last year as a prep for the Smile, but opted to bring him back to New York instead.

“He bounced back out of his race in Dubai very fast and he’s training well,” said Shivananda Parbhoo. “We could have gone to an easier race like the Ponche Handicap, which he won last year, but I think he belongs more in a race like this. He also loves this track. The only thing is that he’s the highweight, but he’s won carrying 124 pounds so if he comes with his ‘A’ game, he should run good.”

Giant Ryan is one of several speed types in the True North, along with Royal Currier and the up-and-coming Crossbow, who has been freshened since posting a pair of easy and well-graded wire-to-wire allowance wins this winter at Aqueduct. The True North will not only mark his first try against Grade 1 company but the first graded stakes race of his career.

“It’s a very tough race, but we think he’s capable of that, and after running through your conditions it’s just a matter of where can you go,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “We gave him a little time between races because he ran such a big race last time, and he’s been training very well. There is a lot of other speed in this field, and we’re in the 2 hole, which is not ideal. We’ll just have to leave it up to Ramon [Dominguez] to work it out.”

A hot pace would enhance the chances of a closer like Caixa Eletronica, who returns in just 12 days after finishing fourth, eight lengths behind Shackleford, in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Earlier this spring, Caixa Eletronica upset the $1 million, Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. He also rallied to finish third, just two lengths behind Giant Ryan, last fall in the Vosburgh.

“He’s coming back a little quick, but he’s done that in the past successfully,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “I like the outside post with a lot of pace in the race. He should sit a nice trip.”

The True North field is strong from top to bottom and also includes Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger, who comes off a fifth-place finish in the Churchill Downs Sprint, a race he much needed; Hamazing Destiny, recent winner of the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap; Pacific Ocean, idle since his victory in Hollywood Park’s Grade 3 Vernon Underwood in November; and recent allowance winner Justin Phillip.