Trinniberg has world-class speed, but may not last
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Bisnath Parboo took in the crowd of reporters asking his son over and over if Trinniberg could handle the mile and a quarter run at the Kentucky Derby after never going longer than seven furlongs. When the group dispersed, the 72-year-old from Trinidad finally spoke up.
"The way he's training now, I'm 100 percent certain he's going to win," Parboo said. "He's doing everything right. We couldn't ask for nothing more. Nothing more."
The patriarch of the family is doing it his way with the Teuflesberg colt purchased entirely by chance for $21,000 at a Florida auction.
When Parboo's family booked him in a fancy downtown hotel, he wouldn't stay -- picking a cheaper option near the track. And when he arrived in the United States in 1982, a clerical error in the paperwork caused his last name to be misspelled. He didn't care, nor did he bother to work to get it changed.
"That's just Pops," son and Trinniberg owner Shivananda Parbhoo said. "It's my father. We just leave him alone."
Parbhoo, who expects more than 40 people from among his friends and family to attend Saturday, said he stumbled upon the sale for Trinniberg while making a delivery at Ocala Breeders Sales. He was taken by the horse's look and had to have him even though he didn't have his checkbook. Parbhoo shrugs at the notion that he had a special eye to find talent.
"I can't look at $500,000 horses," he said.
The dark bay colt is as colorful as the family. He wears bright yellow gear and even has his own Derby flair with a red decorative pompom attached to his head that makes him instantly recognizable as soon as he enters the track.
"Those are our colors," Parbhoo said. "Most of our horses, even though we run in a $5,000, they like to dress them up. It's just a style we have. He's going to wear it at Derby."
He's almost certain to lead on Saturday, too, when the Derby begins, having been in first place in all seven of his lifetime races at some point. He's certainly a pacesetter, once posting a first quarter mile of 20.8 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint that he ended up losing by 13 1/2 lengths.
But since Willie Martinez took over as his rider, Trinniberg has been perfect in two stakes races this year -- winning the Swale at Gulfstream Park and Bay Shore at Aqueduct by a combined nine lengths. Martinez, who'll be in his fifth Derby, said the horse has grown up.
"It's an obvious question. Distance, distance, will he get the distance? That's what everybody's wondering," Martinez said. "The only thing that I can say from my side, the rider's point of view, there's no better feeling for a rider than when the horse relaxes, especially going two turns and especially when everybody's expecting you to be on the pace."
The horse expected to be a long shot certainly has looked relaxed in training sessions this week, and his early break may cause other speedsters like Juvenile champion Hansen and the Bob Baffert-trained Bodemeister to chase, too, and could cause a favorite or two to fatigue too soon.
Of course, a lot will still be determined on Wednesday's post-position draw and Hansen trainer Mike Maker joked that he has an idea for it.
"Trinniberg in the 1, Bodemeister in the 2 and us in about the 13 or 14. That's a perfect scenario," Maker said. "If I was picking a post position, that's what I'd pick."
Without knowing the starting order, Parbhoo hasn't thought about what strategy he might give Martinez. He does know he has no plans to sell Trinniberg, but did pause to reflect when asked what would happen if he were offered $1 million, $2 million or $3 million.
"I like the question," Parbhoo said, laughing. "Remember, everything is for sale in the USA. Everything. Everything is for sale. There's a price for everything."
But, there's no price tag for the experience of winning the Kentucky Derby.
"This is a race that you dream it, you chase it and you want to taste it. That's how I am right now. I'm just like Trinniberg, I'm champing at the bit to get a taste of it," Martinez said. "We don't have to worry about nothing so we're just going to go out there and have fun, take what they're going to give us and hopefully everybody else will expect to come back. He could rain on a lot of people's parades."