Somewhat lost in the hullabaloo of last weekend’s Kentucky Derby prep races and the return of champion Main Sequence in Florida was a victory on the other side of the globe in a rich race in the burgeoning racing nation of Singapore by an American expatriate
The race was the inaugural running of the $2,247,861 CECF Singapore Cup at Kranji Racecourse and the winner was Parranda, a Florida-bred mare who won four graded stakes, three other stakes and $893,005 for three sets of connections before embarking on her Asian career.
Rodolfo Garcia trained the now 6-year-old daughter of English Channel until about midway through last year. The South Florida-based conditioner admitted earlier this week that he didn’t catch the race live – who did, given the time difference and limited distribution of international simulcast signals at U.S. racetracks? – but found out Parranda’s latest success via text messages from friends. He caught the replay over the Internet, saw her win the 1,800-meter event on the grass by 2 1/4 lengths and wasn’t surprised in the slightest.
“I’m telling you the most amazing thing and what might be an even better story is that she’s been real good to everybody that has been associated with her,” Garcia said. “When we first got her, we did well. We sold her and we did well. The people that bought her did really good. They put her in the sale and they got good money for her. These people bought her and she continues to do well. Now she’s gone to Singapore and won this race. It appears she is getting better by the day.”
Parranda’s story features many chapters and her sojourn to Southeast Asia is only the latest.
Bred in Florida by the Steinbrenner family’s Kinsman Farm, Parranda wound up in Garcia’s care after he and bloodstock agent Lisa McGreevy helped owner Felix Fuertes of Lone Stable purchase her for $13,000 at the 2011 OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale. Originally named Onondaga and sold at that sale by Niall Brennan, Parranda breezed an eighth in :11.
“I liked her; when I saw her she was very correct,” Garcia said. “She wasn’t that big, but she was correct. She looked good. My owner, he’s not the kind of person that it doesn’t really matter if they go to the sale and work in (:10 1/5, 10 2/5). As a matter of fact, he wants to get away from those because those horses are usually, if they have good pedigree, are built well and work fast, then they will not fall into the bracket that he can buy from.”
Parranda fell more in line in that bracket, the same price range where Fuertes and Garcia plucked the likes of Buzzards Bay from back in 2004.
She didn’t race as a 2-year-old, given the time to grow and develop and Fuertes’ and Garcia’s patience was rewarded when she won first-time out for a $65,000 claiming tag. She raced twice more for tags – both times for $50,000 at Gulfstream – and Garcia jokes that “If I had known she was going to be the horse that she turned out to be, I probably never would have run her for 65 or 50 or any of that.”
Parranda won one of five starts at 3 and really got good at 4, winning five of 13 starts and earning $240,590. She won the Our Dear Peggy Stakes and the Millions Filly and Mare Turf Preview Stakes at Gulfstream in the fall of her 4-year-old season and opened her 5-year-old campaign with back-to-back wins in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes and Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes. Garcia considered a trip to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley after she finished sixth in the Grade 2 Honey Fox, but an acceptable offer came in from a group led by California-based trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Parranda headed to the West Coast.
“The reason for selling her, with this owner, this guy sells,” Garcia said. “We already sold Buzzards Bay, who we bought in June for $23,000 (after he was listed as not sold for $20,000), broke his maiden, someone came and offered 175 and he was gone, out. Then he won the Santa Anita Derby and whatever. At no point does (Fuertes) look back and say, ‘oh I’m sorry that I sold.’ Anytime you can make some money in this game you have to.”
Parranda won two graded stakes and placed in four others (three of them Grade 1) in her first six starts for Hollendorfer, who was listed as a co-owner with Gillian Campbell, Dan Clark, Gatto Racing and Greg Skoda. Her success in California earned Parranda a shot in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita, where she finished sixth and only 4 1/4 lengths behind eventual champion Dayatthespa.
“When she got sold and they said they were going to take her to California, I thought it was a great place because if you beat them once, you may not beat them all the time, but you’re always going to be there … running against the same horses,” Garcia said. “That’s the way I see it. She won there, the first race, and then even when she lost she was always right there. You don’t see her throw a race where she’s back there, where you don’t know what happened. She was always a very honest horse. Every time she went out there she tried her very best.”
Parranda’s California connections wisely took advantage of her rising stock last year and entered her in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale a few days after the Breeders’ Cup. The China Horse Club, which describes itself as “Asia’s premier racing, business and lifestyle club offering its members and their guests, peerless service, experiences and top tier racing within a luxury horse racing environment,” purchased Parranda for $800,000 at that sale, turned her over to Christophe Clement and set sights for an Asian campaign for the mare.
Parranda got started back at Gulfstream, where she won the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes in early January as her prep for Singapore.
Parranda will remain in Singapore, along with fellow former U.S.-based stakes winners My Option and Bajan, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Singapore Cup, to be trained by Michael Freedman. Reportedly given invites for the Group 1 Dubai Turf (formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free) and Group 2 Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup undercard, Parranda will instead target the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup in May.
Garcia plans to watch wherever she shows up, without regret and without surprise.
“I enjoy them while I have them and then I can tell the stories,” he said. “She’s for real. She was always a very honest horse. Every time she went out there she tried her very best.”
Read more about the China Horse Club.
Read more about Parranda’s win in Singapore from Racing Post.