03/01/2012 12:15PM

Giant Ryan leads group in hunt for New York-bred titles

Barbara D. Livingston
Grade 1 Vosburgh winner Giant Ryan is a leading contender for champion older male and sprinter as well as for New York-bred Horse of the Hear.

The year 2011 was one of transition for New York-breds, probably making for a whole new list of champions when the New York Thoroughbred Breeders holds its annual awards banquet at the Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga on April 2.

After a couple of seasons in which Haynesfield − a two-time New York-bred Horse of the Year − Banrock, Get Serious, and Franny Freud garnered most of the attention, a new group accounted for the majority of success by New York-breds in 2011, when 10 horses accounted for 13 graded stakes victories, including four Grade 1’s.

Giant Ryan went 6 for 9 in 2011. Bred by Becky Thomas and Lewis Lakin, he reeled off six consecutive victories, including the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder and the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park.

Weemissfrankie, a 2-year-old daughter of Sunriver bred by Hidden Point Farm, won a pair of Grade 1 events in Southern California: the Del Mar Debutante and the Oak Leaf at Santa Anita.

The male turf division was so strong in 2011 that although Mission Improved won the Grade 1 Manhattan and Straight Story had two graded wins, the exploits of Compliance Officer may have been the most noteworthy. Claimed for $25,000 in May, Compliance Officer won 6 of 7 starts for his new connections with four stakes victories.

A look at the New York-bred divisions:

Older males/sprinters
Giant Ryan is a leading candidate to be named champion older male, sprinter, and New York-bred Horse of the Year.

Owned by Shivananda Parbhoo and trained by Parbhoo’s father, Bisnath Parboo, Giant Ryan made just one start in 2010 because of a stubborn foot fungus that continually led to lameness.

Following time off, Giant Ryan’s start to 2011 did not portend well when he was soundly defeated in two allowance races at Gulfstream. He shipped up to New York, and after winning two statebred races, Giant Ryan won an open company third-level allowance race in May. He returned to Florida, where he won the Ponche Handicap and got up by a neck to win the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.

Though Giant Ryan would win the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont, Parbhoo said the Smile was Giant Ryan’s “most impressive race” because he overcame trouble to get up in the final strides.

Giant Ryan is in training at Calder but will make his 5-year-old debut in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan on March 31.

Inherit the Gold was the early-season star of the older male division, winning his first four starts of 2011, including the Grade 3 Excelsior. After finishing two lengths behind Drosselmeyer in an overnight stakes at Belmont in May, Inherit the Gold needed a chip removed from a knee. He did return to win one of four starts in the fall.

Future Prospect, based in Kentucky with the 76-year-old Dodson Skaggs, went 5 for 10 − all against open company − including an 18-1 upset in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup at Turfway.

Giant Ryan will most assuredly be named champion sprinter. Be Bullish was a two-time stakes winner and Dr. Disco went 4 for 9 with one stakes success.

Turf male
Owner Thomas La March and trainer Bruce Brown put up $25,000 in May to take Compliance Officer, a then-4-year-old son of Officer who had gone just 1 for 7 as a 3-year-old.

After winning two sprints at Belmont, Compliance Officer successfully stretched out and won the West Point, Ashley T. Cole, and Mohawk Stakes. After an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Compliance Officer finished the year with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Claiming Crown Emerald at Fair Grounds.

“Our goal was just try to win a few races,” Brown said. “We had no idea what all would happen. In Saratoga we had him entered in a short race before the West Point. He came up a little sick. We had to scratch out of the short race. It was a blessing in disguise because that was an optional [$50,000 claimer], and we might have lost him.”

Compliance Officer is in the running for top turf male along with Mission Approved, who won the Grade 1 Manhattan; Street Game, a three-time winner, including the Grade 3 Hill Prince; and Straight Story, who won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy at Belmont and the Grade 2 Autumn at Woodbine.

Three-year-old male
There was no standout in the 3-year-old male division. Street Game, owned and bred by the late Carl Lizza, was the only open company stakes winner, taking the Hill Prince on turf by 7 1/4 lengths.

Socialsaul won three races, including the New York Derby, and was second in the Discovery and beaten only one length in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby. Preachintothedevil and Bigger Is Bettor won stakes.

Three-year-old female
Ava K. went 5 for 8, including three restricted stakes victories from 6 1/2 furlongs to a mile and 70 yards. She finished third in the Grade 3 Comely and was seventh of eight in the Grade 1 Test.

Hessonite, a turf filly, was undefeated against New York-bred competition, winning three stakes, including one against males. Her only two losses during the year came against open company: a third in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth and a second in the Pebbles at Belmont.

Four-time winner Lady On the Run and Miss Valentine, winner of two open company overnight stakes at Monmouth, are also contenders in this division.

Female turf
Hessonite and Gitchee Goomie head this group. Hessonite won 3 of 5 starts in stakes, including a win over Gitchee Goomie in the Ticonderoga to end the year. Gitchee Goomie had 3 wins and 4 seconds in 8 starts. She won the Yaddo and Mt. Vernon and was second to Daveron in the Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont and the Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx.

Chorus Music went 2 for 3, with both wins coming in the Irish Linnet overnight stakes, one at Belmont in April and one at Saratoga in July.

Older female/sprinter
Much like the 3-year-old male division, there is no clear-cut leader among the older females. Lovely Lil, owned and bred by Barry Schwartz, went 3 for 5, including a victory in the Grade 2 Go for Wand. She finished third in the Gallant Bloom and second to Risky Rachel in the Iroquois.

R Betty Graybull won the Ladies but ended her career with two fifth-place finishes. Gitchee Goomie won two statebred turf stakes and was competitive in open company black-type races as well.

Lovely Lil, her stablemate Ava K., and Risky Rachel figure to vie for the female sprint championship.

With victories in the Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf and a third-place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Weemissfrankie should be a slam dunk for 2-year-old filly champion.

The male division is not as clear-cut. Swag Daddy won two overnight stakes in December. Night Maneuver won his first three starts, including the Bertram F. Bongard. Zow, Bay Park Boy, and Shane Roars each won a stakes.