Derby Contenders

Derek Ryan

Derek Ryan was born on September 22, 1966, in Tipperary, Ireland, and soon became interested in horses. “I began riding ponies as a little kid, and things just progressed from there," Ryan said. He gained experience as a horseman in his homeland, as well as England, France and Germany, before arriving in the United States in 1989. He worked as an exercise rider and assistant trainer on the East Coast, then set up shop on his own in 1996. Ryan's first major performer was Emergency Status, the winner of the Jersey Derby (G3) in 2002, and in 2008, he conditioned such stakes scorers as Bunker Hill, Call My Bluff and Allnightdance. But Ryan is unequivocal that Musket Man is his star. "He's the best horse I've had, by far," Ryan told the St. Petersburg Times. "The first time I worked him I was like, 'Whoa, what the hell do I have here?' He just does things that other horses can't do. He's got stamina and gears. When he hits the front, he idles...He has to have something to chase." Ryan says that he enjoys spending his winters at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Florida, because “The track’s very good, especially the turf course. It’s great getting to the beaches and the weather is wonderful. ”