Last week Staff Writer Patricia Ryan took up the reins of SCORECARD. This is by no means an idle figure of speech, for Pat comes from a distinguished line of racetrackers. Her grandfather, Owen Ryan, "The Old Man," was the master of Cleaboy Stud in Mullingar, which for many years was regarded as the leading stud in the British Isles. When Pat's father, Jim Ryan, was 14, The Old Man decided his boy had no eye for a horse and shipped him off to England to make his fortune in a dye works. To little avail. Jim took to riding in amateur steeplechase races on weekends. In his prime, he stood 6 feet but could waste down to 135; now he's several inches shorter, on account of breaking his back so many times. Jim was fired from the dye works after he raced against his boss, Major Holliday, and beat him by a head, whereupon he turned pro. The kind of man Jim Ryan was, he married Pat's mother in Dublin at 6 a.m. in order to get to England in time to ride in a race. He later became a trainer and is now an esteemed buyer and seller of racehorses; indeed, Tattersalls, London's legendary auctioneers, recently said Jim Ryan was the second-best judge of horseflesh in their 200-year history, which would have maddened The Old Man—were he alive. Owen Ryan was adjudged only fourth best.
Pat was initiated early into the mysteries of racing. She recalls her father, attired in a tuxedo after a night in the casinos of Saratoga, waking her sister, her brother and herself at 3 a.m. and positioning them with flashlights at, respectively, the half-mile, three-eighths and quarter poles. The Ryan children were instructed to turn on their flashlights when Daddy's horse went by. Although the clockers were outwitted, someone in the stable ratted and the Ryan horse went off at 2 to 1. Pat herself does not bet. "I guess," she says, "it's because I saw the family fortune at stake too many times."
But she owns racehorses. Pat and her brother were partners in Anxious Moment, who once finished second to Round Table, and she is presently supporting two mares, three foals and a 2-year-old. Naturally, her dad has trained Pat's horses. "He gives me the excuses trainers always give owners," she says. "But I know them all."
Pat came to us as a secretary in 1960, after four years with The Jockey Club, where, she says, "I used to do the colors." Which means she registered racing colors (Pat's are royal blue, white sash and cap) and then painted them on little cards. "My dragons and sea horses were never very professional-looking," she says. She has become, however, a very professional writer.
Before taking over SCORECARD, Pat did the PEOPLE section, wrote several golf stories (she took one lesson, got four blisters and would rather fish for salmon) and covered harness racing. This spring she won the John Hervey Award and its $600 for the best harness-racing story of 1966. If you think this entirely pleased her father, you don't know how Thoroughbred people feel about the animals they call jugheads. Jim Ryan purportedly said: "I never thought I'd see a Ryan in the shafts."