In my little corner of the world, New York's upper Hudson Valley, it's high-five time for Giant Ryan and Weemissfrankie. Both horses were bred just up the road from me, both have won "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge races and it looks like both are going to the Breeders' Cup!
Breaking well out of the gate, Giant Ryan took the lead in the 6 furlong G1 Vosbugh Invitational at Belmont Park, last Saturday, held off a challenge by Force Freeze and won by half a length while dealing with a sloppy track. The Vosburgh was Giant Ryan's second "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup qualifying victory. He secured his berth when he won the G2 Smile Sprint at Calder race track back in July.
Bred by the partnership of Becky Thomas and Lewis Lakin, Giant Ryan was not Breeders' Cup nominated as a weanling. That $500 nomination would have earned Thomas/Lakin $20,000 in bonus money for the two qualifying races. Instead, Shivananda Parbhoo, Giant Ryan's current owner, will have to make a Horses of Racing Age payment of $100,000 to enter the Breeders' Cup. If Giant Ryan is nominated by Oct. 24 with the $100,000 payment, because he has qualified for the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint through the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, Parbhoo will not have to pay any entry fees and the Breeders' Cup will provide the stable with a $10,000 shipping allowance.
Out on the west coast, sensational two-year-old filly Weemissfrankie has not put a hoof wrong in her nascent, brilliant career. She won her first race, a maiden special weight at Del Mar on July 20. She won her second race, the G1 Del Mar Debutant Stakes on September 3. She won the G1 Oak Leaf Stakes on October 2 and secured her spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with her entry fees paid and a travel allowance.
Weemissfrankie is from the first crop of Sunriver. She was foaled and raised at Empire Stud, which is now one of the NY outposts for The Vinery, Lexington, KY. Unfortunately Sunriver, a full brother to dual champion Ashado, died unexpectedly in 2009.
Curiously, both NY-breds, Giant Ryan and Weemissfrankie were sold through Florida's Ocala Breeders' Sales venue. Giant Ryan sold for $14,000 as a weanling, and for $27,000 in the June 2008 two-year-olds in training sale. Weemissfrankie was sold as a yearling in 2010, then sold again for $175,000 in the 2011 April two-year-olds in training sale. She was shipped out to California, where no doubt about it, she has thrived, running beautifully for a group of owners that includes professional skateboard entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek.
Follow Liz O'Connell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NYThoroughbred