10/03/2007 12:00AM

Tony Ryan, breeder, dead

EmailTony Ryan, the owner of the breeding farms Castleton Lyons in Lexington, Ky., and Lyons Demesne in Co. Kildare, Ireland, died at Lyons Demesne on Wednesday. He was 71.

Ryan, a well-known entrepreneur in Ireland and a founder of Europe's Ryanair low-cost airline, only recently entered the American Thoroughbred breeding business with his 2001 purchase of 1,070-acre Castleton Farm, a famed Standardbred nursery on Iron Works Pike. An enthusiastic designer with an interest in history, Ryan set about renovating the farm's facilities and restoring its historic stallion barn. Ryan's renovations also included building an Irish-style folly, a stone tower that overlooks Castleton's pastureland and has become a local landmark.

Castleton Lyons currently stands the stallions Action This Day, Bernstein, Malibu Moon, Sir Shackleton, Toccet, and Wiseman's Ferry. Immediate plans for the farm were not clear, though the farm issued a statement Wednesday noting that Ryan's sons "have been heavily involved with the arm from inception and will ensure that his exceptional vision will continue for the future."

Sons Cathal and Shane own Swordlestown Stud and Kilboy Stud, respectively, in Ireland.

Ryan, who received an honorary doctorate in economic science from the University of Limerick in 1992, bred and owned such runners as group-placed Spinnette and Finnan. He bred Finnan in partnership with Coolmore. Ryan also bred the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up, Antonius Pius, from his mare Catchascatchcan. He bought Catchascatchcan carrying Antonius Pius for $4.7 million at the 2000 Keeneland January sale.

Castleton Lyons will close in Ryan's honor through Oct. 6. Ryan's funeral was to be a private service at Lyons Demesne in Ireland, but a memorial service is to be announced in the coming weeks, according to the family.