02/17/2010 1:00AM

Giant Ryan back to the races

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A competitive six-furlong optional claimer for older New York-bred sprinters highlights Thursday's program at the Big A.

The $42,000 dash, carded as race 8, drew a field of 10, including the David Jacobson-trained entry of Gold Vendetta, who was claimed from a runner-up finish in this condition last out, and Executive Search, a 67-race veteran whose $386,000 in earnings tops the group.

:: RACE OF THE DAY:

The race features the return of Giant Ryan, who has been sidelined for nearly a year since running in the Gotham Stakes last March, and it also marks the training debut of Rudy Rodriguez, who will saddle Wicked Climb - a horse he rode to victory for Chip Dutrow in his last start.

Giant Ryan showed some promise as a 2-year-old late in 2008, when he won maiden and first-level allowance conditions back to back. This will be the Freud colt's first start since pressing the pace from the outside post in the Gotham behind I Want Revenge.

"He never really had a major problem, but the walls of his hoof are too thin for nails, and that kept setting him back," said Nared Parboo, the son of trainer Bisnath Parboo. "Since we've switched to glue-on shoes, he's been coming along really well."

Giant Ryan has posted a series of workouts for his return, including a bullet five furlongs over the Belmont training track recently.

"The exercise rider said he did it all on his own," said Parboo.

Wicked Climb was the last winner for erstwhile jockey Rodriguez, and the 4-year-old gelding will be his first starter as a trainer. The 37-year-old Rodriguez, whose biggest win came aboard Frost Giant in the 2008 Suburban, rode 221 winners during an 18-year career, and he was also a main exercise rider for Rick Dutrow.

Wicked Climb looms a strong part of the early pace along with King David J, who is fresh off a wire-to-wire victory over several members of this field for trainer Linda Rice.

Dutrow, meanwhile, sends out January Gent, a beaten favorite at this level when he returned from a layoff last month.

Fiddlers Patriot won or placed four starts for George Weaver, and has been freshened since an eventful runner-up finish behind Gold Vendetta on Jan. 2.

Brecciate, Freddy the Cap and Al's Lark round out the field.