VOSBURGH INVITATIONAL | PURSE: $350,000 | GRADE 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 6 FURLONGS
Shivananda Parbhoo's Giant Ryan made a successful return to his home state of New York when upsetting Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park. Unraced since winning the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Calder in July, the five-year-old broke alertly over muddy track and set a pace of :22 and :44 1/5. Still up 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, Giant Ryan held off a grinding late challenge from Force Freeze to score by a half-length in a time of 1:09 for six furlongs. A 12-1 longshot, Giant Ryan paid $26.40, $10 and $6.70.
Force Freeze chased Giant Ryan from second all the way around the track, but simply could not reach the winner. The only one to make any considerable ground from the back, Caixa Eletronica, trailed the field of eight after a quarter-mile but rallied to finished third, a half-length ahead of even-money favorite Trappe Shot.
Several that finished near the tail of the field endured troubled trips, including 2-1 second choice Euroears. Trainer Bob Baffert's California invader was pushed inward by Calibrachoa soon after the start and bumped with Apriority. None were able to makes serious challenges thereafter as Calibrachoa settled for fifth, with Justin Phillip, Apriority and Euroears completing the order of finish.
Big Drama, last year's champion sprinter and Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, was withdrawn from the Vosburgh on Friday after contracting a fever.
Unplaced in his first two stakes attempts as a three-year-old, Giant Ryan returned to stakes company this past April when scoring in the Hamlet for New York-breds at Aqueduct by a half-length. Sent to Calder in south Florida over the summer by trainer Bisnath Parboo, Giant Ryan clicked first time over the track in taking the Ponche by 4 3/4 lengths. His margin in the Smile Sprint was tighter, but Giant Ryan prevailed by a half-length. The Vosburgh was Giant Ryan's sixth straight win, and elevated his career earnings to $626,841 from a line of 14-8-1-1.
The Vosburgh was a key prep for the November 5 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs, a race Giant Ryan will now aim for.
"I will keep him here [at Belmont] for a week or two and then he will ship directly to Churchill Downs," the owner said. "He will leave three weeks before the Breeders' Cup. This was to see if he could compete with the best horses."
Also aiming for the Breeders' Cup Sprint will be Vosburgh runner-up Force Freeze, according to trainer Peter Walder.
"He deserves a chance. This was the toughest field he had all year. He proved he belonged here."
A son of Freud, Giant Ryan was bred by Thomas/Lakin and was produced by the winning Dayjur mare Kheyrah.