Private Creed has quickly emerged as one of North America’s leading 2-year-old turf sprinters, including a breakthrough victory in the listed Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs in September and a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
A year earlier, he caught the eyes of Marcus and Crystal Ryan in the back ring of the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, setting into motion the series of events that made him one of the young stars of the turf.
Based in Aiken, S.C., the Mason Springs operation has seen its reputation grow by leaps and bounds in recent years as a breaking and 2-year-old sales operation, and the horses they bought at last year’s September sale have had a big hand in continuing that upwarougrd trend.
The Ryans met Private Creed at the Keeneland September sale when he was known only as Hip 3347, selling late in the marathon auction. Bred in Kentucky and consigned at the sale by Sierra Farm, the Jimmy Creed colt is out of the stakes-winning Sky Mesa mare South Andros.
“He was just a big, strong looking horse in the back ring,” Marcus Ryan said. “A little excited, but he looked like he was fast, and he looked like he could go long. He looked like a perfect buy on the day, in our price range, of course.”
The Ryans purchased the colt for $45,000, and made him part of the roughly 25 horses they’d have in training to start racing the following year, between horses destined for the sales and those headed straight to the track for clients.
Ryan said Private Creed had a colic surgery on his record prior to the sale that might have scared off potential buyers at a higher price bracket, but they were willing to take the chance after getting a passing grade from their veterinarian.
“He came down to the farm, and he was the same as everyone else,” Ryan said. “He just worked along with him, did a lot of field and hill work with him. My dad came over in the spring and complimented him, and said he was a beautiful horse. Everybody that rode him loved him.”
Mason Springs sent 11 horses to this year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which was the most they’d ever brought to the May auction. Private Creed wasn’t necessarily a standout among the group heading into the sale, but he generated some buzz after the under-tack show, where he covered an eighth of a mile in 10 3/5 seconds.
“Did we think he was going to win first time out, and do what he’s been doing? Probably not at the time,” Ryan said. “We didn’t drill on him real fast, but we did give him a lot of galloping. When he was at the sales and he had a good gallop-out, and everyone came to see him, we knew we were going to do well.”
Private Creed went to Mike McCarty for $115,000, which was the second-biggest price for the consignment at that year’s Midlantic sale. The colt was put in the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen for his on-track career.
The colt debuted at Ellis Park on July 30, and he took a 5 1/2-furlong turf race by 1 1/4 lengths. He followed up that effort with a third-place finish in the Skidmore Stakes on Aug. 19 in Saratoga.
Private Creed then shipped to Kentucky Downs for the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes, where he was the second betting choice behind heavy favorite Sharp Aza Tack.
Under jockey Joel Rosario, Private Creed sat a couple lengths off the leaders from four paths wide in the 6 1/2-furlong race, then they staged a bold move to the inside once they entered the long straightaway. He split between foes and engaged in a stretch duel with Sharp Aza Tack before drawing away by three-quarters of a length at the wire.
Private Creed had a similar trip in his next start, the listed Indian Summer Stakes on Oct. 9 at Keeneland, which he also won by three-quarters of a length, establishing the colt as one of the top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at the same track.
Though he has achieved national-level prominence on the grass, Private Creed’s success on the surface came as something of a surprise to Ryan from where the colt started.
“When we had him, I thought he was going to be more of a dirt horse, but he moved really easy,” Ryan said. “You have to try it, and he did well on it.”
The surface preference might have been a surprise, but Ryan said Private Creed handled himself like a horse that could do important things, and he was grateful for what the colt has achieved.
“He was a gentleman of a horse,” Ryan said. “He was a big, kind horse that was willing to please. He’s taken us places we cannot go on our own.”