Taiba is First Grade 1 Winner for Breeder and Consignor

Regardless of what happens May 7 in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), Taiba has already become the horse of a lifetime for his breeder Bruce Ryan and consignor Zach Madden, owner of Buckland Sales, by becoming the first grade 1 winner they’ve bred and sold, respectively.

Zedan Racing’s son of Gun Runner delivered an impressive performance April 9 at Santa Anita Park where he captured the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his second lifetime start. The colt trained by Tim Yakteen went from zero to 100 qualifying points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and now ranks eighth on the leaderboard.

“I was leaving Keeneland and I had to pull off to the side of the road to watch it on my phone … I was flipping out, I was by myself and it was just amazing,” Madden said. “I was so proud of the horse, he’s so cool .”

Madden consigned the colt as a yearling for Ryan at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearling Sale where longtime partners Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo bought him for $140,000. Hartley/De Renzo then pinhooked Taiba to the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale of select 2-year-olds in training, selling him for $1.7 million to agent Gary Young.

“We’ve had grade 2 winners, grade 3 winners, multiple stakes winners, and all that other stuff but this just hits a little differently,” Madden said. “It’s a culmination of a lot of things, my team’s work, the people I represent; it makes you see the forest through the trees.

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“At the time we were thrilled. He brought $140,000 which is nothing to sniff at but his 2-year-old price was astronomical. He deserved that.”

Madden says he remembers the colt as “straightforward” and “level-headed,” remaining unfazed throughout the commotion of the sale grounds.

“He’s the type that at the sale nothing ever bothered him; vets coming in to scope the horse or showing out at the sale for three or four days… He’s always been special for us and even more so now.”

to Madden, the colt’s conformation was yet another positive attribute that helped to contribute according to his early success on the track.

“He’s just what you think of when you think of an equine athlete. He’s well-balanced, well made, and he’s not too big or too small,” Madden said.

Photo: John C. Engelhardt

Taiba as a yearling at Bruce Ryan’s farm

Ryan had been a regular Buckland client when Taiba was offered in 2020, but Madden said he still appreciates the opportunity and is still “floating on cloud nine.”

“It’s crazy how it all works out, it’s good to put that feather in our cap and I don’t take it for granted,” Madden said. “I know every horse isn’t a grade 1 winner but, man, when it happens it’s a surreal, insane feeling.

“This is why we’re all doing this, chasing that dream, and to have the prospects of a horse that will have a really good shot on the first Saturday in May makes waking up a little bit easier,” he said.

Taiba is the first graded stakes winner bred by Ryan, who has been breeding and raising horses for more than 30 years. The founder of Ryan’s All-Glass, a commercial custom glass company in Cincinnati, Oh. started out with Quarter Horses but soon discovered he had better opportunities to make money with Thoroughbreds.

One of Ryan’s first Thoroughbreds was a yearling filly named Kiosk , who he bought privately from Eutrophia Farms at the 2001 Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Fall Mixed Sale after she was bought back on a final bid of $6,700. When Ryan went looking for a trainer, he and Tim Hamm decided to race a kiosk together and launched a partnership that lasted for 15 years.

Kiosk became a five-time stakes-placed winner of $115,649 and would go to become every bit as successful as a broodmare. She has produced eight winners from eight to race led by her star performer Needmore Flatery a daughter of Flatter that won nine black-type stakes on her way to earning $732,103.

At the end of Needmore Flattery’s racing career in 2016, Ryan started scaling back on his breeding and racing operation. He and Hamm divided up some of the horses they owned and bought each other out on others. Ryan retained Needmore Flattery as a broodmare and after breeding one year to Ashford Stud’s Uncle Mo found a statistically strong match with Three Chimneys Farm’s first-year sire and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner .

“We look at the different nicking systems and the statistics and they all pointed toward Gun Runner being a good horse. The match was so strong, we felt we had no choice,” recalled Ryan.

The mating produced Taiba, who was actually born at Millennium Farms near Lexington and then was moved to Ryan’s farm after he’d met the requirements to be a registered Kentucky-bred.

“When the foal was born, Tom Hamm (director of stallion nominations) with Three Chimneys came out and said, ‘This horse looks just like his daddy.’ When we looked at the foal, we thought he looked just like the mare,” Ryan said.

Tim Hamm said what the colt inherited from his sire and dam are even more pronounced on the racetrack.

“The way he drops his head when he’s really running is the way (Needmore Flattery) ran, she dropped her head and runs with the same style. What is interesting is that Gun Runner ran the same way. I guess he got a double- dose of that style,” said Hamm.

The blazing closing kick Taiba showed in the Santa Anita Derby mirrors what Needmore Flattery showed in most of her races, as well, according to Ryan.

“He does everything his mother did. She would not turn on the afterburners until the last sixteenth, and he did that comfortably and easily,” Ryan said. “The mare would lay close to the front, maybe three lengths off and sit back, and then between the 3/16th and the eighth pole it would be say goodbye.”

Ryan does not own Needmore Flattery anymore, having sold her for $195,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale to Yeguada Centurion, a farm owned by Leopoldo Fernández Pujals. The Uncle Mo filly the mare was carrying when she was sold was born in Ireland.

He still has plenty of ties to the family, however, and is racing a stakes-winning full sister to Needmore Flattery named Flatter Her Again who won the Southern Park Stakes March 26 at Mahoning Valley Race Course.

“She seems to be maturing and I think there are some better races for her ahead when we get her to some other tracks,” said Ryan. “We’ll see how she does this year. We may end up next year taking her straight to Gun Runner.”

Ryan also has a young stallion, Need More Mo, who is the first foal out of Needmore Flattery, a son of Uncle Mo who entered stud this year at Poplar Creek Horse Center near Bethel, Oh. He is standing for $1,500.

As for Taiba, Ryan said he and his wife Mary expected big things from him but certainly never anticipated grade 1 success so quickly.

“When we raised him, everything we did with him was easy. He was nice. He was playful and you could tell how intelligent he was when you interacted with him,” Ryan said. “Honestly, I was shocked he jumped to a grade 1. His works going in were always close to bullets and so I know he was getting groomed for a big race but a grade 1 seemed a big jump. He obviously was ready.”

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