Giant Ryan ran his winning streak to five races when he collared pacesetting Irrefutable a couple of strides before the wire to win by a neck in the $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) July 9 at Calder Casino & Race Course (VIDEO).
The "Summit of Speed" co-feature was the first graded stakes win for Shivananda Parbhoo's Giant Ryan, who is trained by his father, Bisnath Parboo. Thomas/Lakin bred the 5-year-old son of of Freud —Kheyrah (by Dayjur), in New York. Giant Ryan earned an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs with the victory in the six-furlong Smile Sprint.
The winner of the Smile Sprint has gone on to take the Eclipse Award as the nation's leading sprinter in two of the past three years—Bennie the Bull in 2008 and Big Drama last year.
"He was supposed to win and he did win," Bisnath Parboo told HRTV while indicating the Breeders' Cup Sprint would be Giant Ryan's main target.
"If he’s all right, the main target would be the Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont Park (Oct. 1), possibly with a race here before that if we can get one suitable," added Shivananda Parbhoo. "If not, we might look somewhere else. If things went well in the Vosburgh and after, then we’d go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Giant Ryan broke from the rail on a Calder main track rated "good" with Cornelio Velazquez aboard and sat a perfect trip in third along the inside. Irrefutable, invading from Southern California for trainer Bob Baffert, took the lead soon after the start for Mike Smith and maintained the advantage over the pressing This Ones for Phil through and opening quarter mile of :22.39 and the half in :45.52.
Irrefutable cruised into the stretch with a clear lead as This Ones for Phil fell back a bit and was two lengths in front of Giant Ryan mid-stretch. Giant Ryan, who had angled out between the leaders in upper stretch, was relentless under urging from Velasquez, however, and gradually wore down Irrefutable to his inside in the shadow of the wire. The final time was 1:11.34.
"We had the rail and the only tactical question was if I should let him use some speed early or take him back," Velasquez said. "He has more speed than he usually shows, but Irrefutable was sending right along so we had no choice except to sit back. Once I asked him to run, I felt that we would catch him.”
Noble's Promise , the 3-2 favorite in the field of six, rallied in the lane for jockey Manoel Cruz but came up one length short of the winner while settling for third.
Apriority, one of the favorites leading up to the race, was scratched with a foot abscess by trainer David Fawkes.
Giant Ryan earned $214,830 for his seventh victory in 13 lifetimes races, more than doubling his earnings to $416,841. The bay horse was coming off a 4 3/4-length triumph in Calder's Ponche Handicap June 11 and is now two-for-two over the track. He has won five of seven races in 2011.
Sent off as the co-second choice in an evenly matched field, Giant Ryan carried 119 pounds and paid $7.40, $3.80, $2.40. Irrefutable, in his stakes debut for Baffert, returned $4.20 and $2.80 and completed a $23.40 exacta. The 120-pound high weight Noble's Promise paid $2.20 to show in his first start for trainer Ken McPeek since winning Churchill's Aristides Stakes (gr. III) June 4.
Royal Tricon finished fourth, followed by How's Your Halo and This Ones for Phil.