06/02/2017 12:16PM

Mike Ryan's fingerprints all over recent classic winners

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Debra A. Roma
Preakness winner Cloud Computing was purchased as a yearling by Mike Ryan.

Thoroughbred racing is a sport with no offseason, no time to rest on one’s laurels. That’s why Chad Brown was on a plane back to his barn at Belmont Park just hours after saddling his first classic winner, Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. Meanwhile, Mike Ryan, whom Brown credited with discovering Cloud Computing, was hard at work back in Maryland, looking for the next star.

Ryan could have been forgiven if he’d taken a moment a few days after the Preakness to reflect before signing the sales tickets as agent for eight juveniles totaling $1.75 million at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale.

Cloud Computing, whom he scouted and purchased as a yearling, just added to Ryan’s remarkable spring. He also co-bred Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. It was the second consecutive Kentucky Derby winner whom Ryan was involved with, as he also was part of a pinhooking partnership on 2016 victor Nyquist.

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It is quite the string of success, even for a lifelong horseman who has been involved in the industry at every level – breeding, racing, bloodstock agency, and pinhooking – and whose operation is also responsible for Horse of the Year Saint Liam and several other Eclipse Award champions.

“He deserves the credit for finding [Cloud Computing],” said Brown, adding that Ryan began purchasing horses for him three or four years ago. Among his other acquisitions for the barn is 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner New Money Honey, who is possible for the $200,000 Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont on Thursday. “His career speaks for itself. He’s been doing it a long time. We’re happy to have him on our team scouting for us.”

With the juvenile sale season in North America coming to its end at next week’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. June sale, Ryan has been active scouting for his various clients. In addition to his Midlantic purchases, he picked up a trio of juveniles for a combined $745,000 at the elite Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale and another half-dozen for $1.2 million at the OBS March and April sales.

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Gerry Dilger, like Ryan a native of Ireland, purchased Nyquist in partnership with Ted Campion and Pat Costello for $180,000 as a 2013 Keeneland November weanling. Dilger’s Dromoland Farm consigned the colt when he sold to Ryan and Niall Brennan for $230,000 at the following year’s Keeneland September yearling sale. Brennan and Ryan’s pinhooking partnership has found success with runners like 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and they sold Nyquist for $400,000 to bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill at Fasig-Tipton’s 2-year-old sale at Gulfstream.

Ryan and Dilger, who have owned horses together for 20 years, worked together with Always Dreaming, breeding him under the moniker of Santa Rosa Partners. They have been involved with the family for more than a decade, having purchased Always Dreaming’s dam, the Grade 3-winning In Excess mare Above Perfection, for $450,000 out of the ClassicStar dispersal at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. The mare is the dam of seven winners from as many starters and had already produced Grade 1 winner Hot Dixie Chick when the partners elected to send her to Bodemeister in his first season at WinStar Farm.

Shortly after Above Perfection delivered her colt on Feb. 25, 2014, at Dromoland, Dilger made a phone call, Ryan said.

“The day he was born, he called WinStar, and he said, ‘I’ve just had a hell of a Bodemeister,’ ” Ryan said.

Always Dreaming, who sold for $350,000 from Dromoland’s 2015 Keeneland September consignment, romped in the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby despite causing worries due to his aggressive behavior in training in the weeks before the Derby.

Ryan said Always Dreaming inherited his dam’s intelligence.

“He has a great mind,” Ryan said.

“He trains with a lot of energy, but he’s a real smart horse.”

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But lying in wait for Always Dreaming at the Preakness Stakes two weeks later was another horse with a connection to Ryan in Cloud Computing, a lightly raced colt who had skipped the Derby. Ryan purchased the colt, by another first-crop sire in Maclean’s Music, for $200,000 out of co-breeder Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm’s consignment at the 2015 Keeneland September sale.

“I saw him on my presale visits on the farm,” Ryan said. “I saw him three weeks out from the sale, and I thought he was a special colt then. He stood out then. I said to Chad, he’s on Day 6 [of the sale], but Maclean’s Music only had the one start but was absolutely brilliant. So, he was very much unknown.

“And he said, ‘Go with your gut.’ ”

Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John Sikura said it is important to the long-term success of his stallion that Ryan’s gut led him to a son of Maclean’s Music.

“It is very important to have great judges buying first-crop yearlings to validate a freshman sire in the marketplace,” Sikura said. “Mike said he thinks Maclean’s Music is the next Danzig and has been a great supporter of the stallion.”

With all of Ryan’s recent classic successes being from the first crop of their respective sires, he offered high praise for a current freshman at Fasig Midlantic, 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

“I’m impressed by them,” Ryan said after a colt by Orb sold to O’Neill for $710,000 – another successful pinhook for Ryan, who had selected the colt for $170,000 as a yearling. “They’re two-turn horses, but they’ve got class. They’re sound, they’re good-training horses, they’re very straightforward.”

Meanwhile, Above Perfection, housed at Dromoland, kept things in the family by visiting another first-year stallion this spring – Nyquist.