12/08/2008 12:00AM

Trainer profile: David Duggan

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David Duggan burst onto the New York scene in a big way this year. It's another one of those overnight success stories that's been 15 years in the making, ever since Duggan left his native Ireland and headed to California to work as an exercise rider for Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale back in 1993.

Duggan spent two years with Drysdale before coming to New York as an assistant trainer, first for John Kimmel and then for Eoin Harty. During those apprenticeships, he helped to develop such horses as Successful Appeal, a multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter, and Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup.

"It was a good experience," Duggan said. "We had some nice horses, and I got exposed to a lot of great people."

Duggan struck out in his own in 2005 and saddled his first winner, Malaysia, in a maiden race at Delaware Park. His first winner in New York was Heavenly Psalm on Aqueduct's inner dirt track in January 2006.

In 2007, Duggan's stable grew to the point where he saddled 14 winners from 94 starters. Things have progressed steadily since then.

As the days dwindled down in 2008, his record for the year stood at 22-13-14 from 126 starters, with just more than $1 million in earnings. Of relevance to horseplayers, his return on investment from all starters was a phenomenal $3.11.

Duggan had a solid spring meet at Belmont, with five winners. He then took Saratoga by storm, going 6-3-2 with just 19 starters, including two wins apiece by the fillies Porte Bonheur and Cagey Girl. The former paid $17 for winning the restricted Flanders overnight stakes and then captured the Grade 3 Victory Ride at $24.60 on Travers Day at the expense of multiple stakes winners Indyanne and Informed Decision. Four days later, Cagey Girl, who was coming off an allowance victory at $47.60 during the opening week, went wire to wire in the Mollie Wilmot and lit up the board again at $47.

"It was a breakout kind of meet for me - I had a smile on my face you couldn't get off if you tried to chisel it off," Duggan said. "Things just hit a roll. The horses were doing well at the right time, they had conditions, and we got a little lucky, there's no two ways about it."

This fall, Duggan scored his two richest triumphs to date.

Stud Muffin, a gray New York-bred colt claimed by Duggan for $35,000 in March, posted an off-the-pace score in the $250,000 Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day. Two weeks later, Porte Bonheur shipped to Woodbine and won the $163,500 Ontario Fashion at better than 6-1; after handling Polytrack so well, her long-range goal is the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.David Duggan burst onto the New York scene in a big way this year. It's another one of those overnight success stories that's been 15 years in the making, ever since Duggan left his native Ireland and headed to California to work as an exercise rider for Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale back in 1993.

Duggan spent two years with Drysdale before coming to New York as an assistant trainer, first for John Kimmel and then for Eoin Harty. During those apprenticeships, he helped to develop such horses as Successful Appeal, a multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter, and Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup.

"It was a good experience," Duggan said. "We had some nice horses, and I got exposed to a lot of great people."

Duggan struck out in his own in 2005 and saddled his first winner, Malaysia, in a maiden race at Delaware Park. His first winner in New York was Heavenly Psalm on Aqueduct's inner dirt track in January 2006.

In 2007, Duggan's stable grew to the point where he saddled 14 winners from 94 starters. Things have progressed steadily since then.

As the days dwindled down in 2008, his record for the year stood at 22-13-14 from 126 starters, with just more than $1 million in earnings. Of relevance to horseplayers, his return on investment from all starters was a phenomenal $3.11.

Duggan had a solid spring meet at Belmont, with five winners. He then took Saratoga by storm, going 6-3-2 with just 19 starters, including two wins apiece by the fillies Porte Bonheur and Cagey Girl. The former paid $17 for winning the restricted Flanders overnight stakes and then captured the Grade 3 Victory Ride at $24.60 on Travers Day at the expense of multiple stakes winners Indyanne and Informed Decision. Four days later, Cagey Girl, who was coming off an allowance victory at $47.60 during the opening week, went wire to wire in the Mollie Wilmot and lit up the board again at $47.

"It was a breakout kind of meet for me - I had a smile on my face you couldn't get off if you tried to chisel it off," Duggan said. "Things just hit a roll. The horses were doing well at the right time, they had conditions, and we got a little lucky, there's no two ways about it."

This fall, Duggan scored his two richest triumphs to date.

Stud Muffin, a gray New York-bred colt claimed by Duggan for $35,000 in March, posted an off-the-pace score in the $250,000 Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day. Two weeks later, Porte Bonheur shipped to Woodbine and won the $163,500 Ontario Fashion at better than 6-1; after handling Polytrack so well, her long-range goal is the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.