Agent Mike Ryan Gives Lowdown On Chad Brown's Juveniles And More

Mike Ryan | Tattersalls 

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Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan has given the lowdown on the top Chad Brown-trained juvenile prospects that were selected at last year's Book 1 session at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

Ryan, who has sourced well over 50 Group/Grade 1 winners in his long and distinguished career, including Book 1 graduates Newspaperofrecord (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), Digital Age (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB}), admitted to finding trade “a little easier” in 2023 compared to previous visits to Park Paddocks. 

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Newspaperofrecord featured in Ryan's debut haul at Book 1 back in 2017. She was knocked down to the agent, signing on behalf of Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables and Brown, for 200,000gns. 

Ryan has returned to Tattersalls every year since and signed for a whopping 16 yearlings in 2022 and the same number last year, the majority of which were purchased on behalf of the hugely successful owner and trainer. 

Recapping last year's activity, where Ryan spent 3,860,000gns, the agent said, “We got blown out of the water several times, for sure. But we did feel that we got a lot of quality for the money that we spent. Seth Klarman is an amazing owner. He is incredibly patient and loves the game. It's great he has enjoyed the amount of success that he has because he is a huge supporter and is an incredible investor. He loves buying these European grass horses and he's done incredibly well with them. It might have been a little easier to buy them last year. I sense that the market was probably a little bit patchy, as it is here in America, because we have more inventory than we have buyers. That's a problem here as well.”

It may only be February but Ryan has seen enough from this year's bunch of juveniles to suggest the team are in good shape for the year ahead.

He commented, “It's early days but we've been around enough good horses down through the years to know when you do see that cream rising to the top. You can base your observations on previous horses that you have had through the programme and you know pretty quickly with young horses whether you've got a decent group or an average group. We're quite pleased with the bunch of two-year-olds we have for this year. We usually buy two or three Lope De Vegas every year and we have a colt by him out of Sea of Faith (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) who we like quite a bit. He's been impressing us.”

Ryan added, “We've got a Blue Point (Ire) colt out of a mare called Blind Faith (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) who we bought from the McCartans of Ballyphilip Stud and he's a lovely horse. He'll go two turns as well because he's got plenty of scope and stretch. He's got a lot of class and has a great mind. He does things very easily. 

“We got a very strong Kingman (GB) out of Queen's Code (Ire) (Shamardal) and he's impressive. There's a magnificent turf track at Stonestreet and a bunch of them worked on it the other day. He was one of the colts who showed up nicely. The Wootton Bassett (GB) colt out of The Fugue (GB) (Dansili {GB}) could be pretty special. He's a big horse and we won't be rushing him but he moves beautifully and covers a lot of ground. He'll be a nice mile-and-a-quarter horse and gives us a lot of confidence. 

“I haven't seen the Study Of Man (Ire) colt out of Almiranta (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) training but the reports are good. We really liked him as a yearling; he'd a great frame with great angles. I'm very curious to see what he looks like on the racetrack. I'd expect him to make a two-year-old and, you know what, it wouldn't shock me if he ran on the dirt.”

All told, Ryan signed for nine fillies and seven colts at Book 1 last year. The distribution between fillies and colts was the same for a similar spend of 3,745,000gns in 2022. 

On what he looks for when searching for European-bred grass horses to run in America, Ryan explained, “We typically try to buy horses who will get a mile and beyond. We don't focus on sprinters because we don't have the opportunities on grass that you do in Europe for sprinters.

“We like horses who give us the feeling that they have a turn of foot. Horses who look like they can accelerate quickly. Our turns are tight and usually the serious running starts at the top of the stretch to the wire so you need well-balanced horses who can corner exceptionally well as well.”

He added, “We've been very lucky at Book 1 and, the first year we went over there, we bought Newspaperofrecord. She was by Lope De Vega and we've been very lucky with that stallion as well. Program Trading (GB), who won two Grade Is last year, is another example of that. We've been very lucky with Kingman (GB)–Domestic Spending and Technical Analysis (Ire)–and we've been very lucky with Dubawi (Ire)–who wouldn't be?–but we're always looking for the new horse.

“We've only bought a couple by Frankel (GB), one of which is McKulick (GB), and he is just an incredible stallion but we have found that they might not be as speedy and sharp as what we require for turf races over here. Whereas the Kingmans, they do have that natural speed and are naturally forward horses.

“We like Night Of Thunder (Ire) and Too Darn Hot (GB) is a horse we like a lot as well. We have a Too Darn Hot filly called Oversubscribed, who actually dead-heated last time at Tampa and was unlucky not to win, and she is very, very good. We thought she was Breeders' Cup class last year but she came up with a small setback and just needed some time off. We think she could be anything.”

While Ryan loves nothing more than to return to a tried and trusted source of success, he is also open-minded enough to snap up the progeny of some of the lesser-exposed stallions. Along with bagging that Study Of Man colt from Staffordstown Stud for 220,000gns, Ryan added two fillies by first-season sire Pinatubo (Ire) for a combined sum of 480,000gns and said both recruits are really impressing in their work. 

“We've a very nice Pinatubo (Ire) filly out of Sparkle Roll (Fr) (Kingman {GB}),” he said. “We bought her off Highclere Stud. We actually bought two Pinatubos. The other is out of a mare called Dreamlike (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) and we got her from Fittocks Stud for 260,000gns. “She is a three-quarters sister to Program Trading. We were very impressed by the Pinatubos and we underbid a couple of others. I actually bred to him myself and I have two yearlings by him, I've got a mare in foal to him and I'm sending two mares back to him. He's a beautifully-bred horse; a son of Shamardal and was just a superior racehorse. They just have a lot of quality and are easy to like.”

He added, “I've always been a huge fan of Shamardal. He reminds me of Into Mischief. His progeny are so determined, courageous and have a great desire to compete. They are just tough, good and dependable racehorses. Shamardal was that way himself and he seems to have passed it on. He's a great, great influence in my mind.”

As well as pedigrees and sires, there are basic fundamentals that Ryan hones in on when trying to find the next Newspaperofrecord. Given speed and, more importantly, a change of gear plays a massive role in the winning and losing of many big races on grass in America, a well-balanced, lighter and somewhat sleeker type of thoroughbred is what Ryan tends to go searching for. 

He explained, “Grass horses are different to American dirt horses. The American dirt horse is very powerfully made. They have very strong quarters and are very powerful over their backs with a deep girth and chest. I don't like heavy horses. I prefer horses with a clean neck and shoulder. We look for horses with good mechanics. Horses who move well and do it within themselves. Obviously you look for a horse with a good temperament as well. But, we're quite flexible. We will forgive some conformational flaws and I put a lot of emphasis on a horse's demeanour; the feel or the vibe you get from a horse. That's very important to me.”

He added, “We're lucky in Tattersalls that we get plenty of time to look at horses, which we do. The sale is spread out nicely and it gives trainers in particular time to look at the horses. It's such a high concentration of good horses at Book 1 and we do work it thoroughly and have really enjoyed going over there. Thankfully we have come out of there with a lot of good horses. But if you don't find them at Book 1, where else are you going to find them? Seriously. You've got 40 Kingmans, Frankels, Wootton Bassetts, Night Of Thunders, No Nay Nevers and about 25 Dubawis. You know, it's just an incredibly strong bunch of sires to choose from.”

The common denominator in this success story is Brown. The agent says that a strong mutual respect underpins their relationship and points to Brown's apprenticeship with legendary trainer Bobby Frankel as being the cornerstone to him becoming one of the most successful trainers in America. 

“He's super, super smart,” said Ryan of the trainer. “Chad is just incredibly intelligent and extremely organised. He has an incredible recall. I think he was incredibly fortunate, and I keep telling him this, to have worked for one of the greatest American trainers in Bobby Frankel. That would be the equivalent to working for Aidan O'Brien, Vincent O'Brien or Andre Fabre. That was the best university that he could have gone to and he'd often say to me, 'this is what Bobby would have done,' when it comes to a horse. 

“He's incredibly patient and he gives his horses time. That's why his horses have real longevity. He's more focussed on developing a horse to have a career and not just a season. We've a great mutual respect. I have learned a lot from him and he has learned a lot from me. We trust each other. That goes a long way.”

With that in mind, it's not just the youngsters that Ryan suggested would be worth following throughout 2024 and said that big things were expected of previous Book 1 purchases Equitize (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Dynamic Pricing (Ire) along with Oversubscribed. 

He concluded, “There's a four-year-old called Equitize and he is very, very good. I think people are going to be reading a lot about him this summer and he could go for races like the Man O'War and the Manhattan. Dynamic Pricing is a lovely three-year-old filly by Night Of Thunder. We bought her at Book 1 a couple of years ago from Croom House Stud. She was third in the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream on her last start but got in a lot of trouble. I'd put those two older horses forward with Oversubscribed as being our horses to follow on the grass this year.”

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