Tipperary-born Derek Ryan thinks he can upset the Triple Crown-seeking Super Saver in the Preakness.
His horse Schoolyard Dreams beat the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby and is now back to take him on in the second leg of the Triple Crown trail.
Last year, Ryan trained Musket Man, who finished third in the Preakness,
"I think I should have won it last year," Ryan said. "He got checked right at the most important part of the race. The same horse [Pioneerof the Nile] that banged into us in the Kentucky Derby came right over on him."
Schoolyard Dreams gives Ryan an unprecedented second shot at a classic, a rare event for a young and relatively unknown trainer.
"If he had had enough earnings he would have went into the Derby, but he wouldn't have been going into that race the way you wanted.
"I got to get lucky once in these races," Ryan said. "I have the horse, I just need a little racing luck."
Ryan, a 43-year-old native of Tipperary is one eight siblings, one of whom is a professional golfer in Ireland.
He got a student visa to come the U.S. in 1989, and in 1995 struck out on his own. The first horse he trained was Moose the Goose, who won two races in a 10-day period at Gulfstream.
His skill brought him to the attention of Eric Fein a major horse owner who sent his full stable to him.
"After going through a few trainers . . . I finally found one that was pretty honest," Fein told Daily Racing Form.
"Great guy, really good trainer. If he had the clientele like some of these other guys, he'd be as good or better."
Ryan is known as a very patient trainer. Neither Musket Man nor Schoolyard Dreams started until late October of their 2-year-old season.
"Waiting on them is the killer, but you got to wait," Ryan said.
"If you wait they'll reward you. Schoolyard Dreams wouldn't have broken his maiden for $25,000 in April or May or June - he just wasn't ready. I always end up buying these May foals and they don't end up looking the part when you buy them because they're late, whereas the February and March ones are usually better looking."
Ryan says Fein lets him be patient with his 2-year-olds.
"He doesn't tell you how train them, he doesn't interfere," Ryan said.
"Most guys would be busting your chops."
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