J.H. and Annette Ryan Story

     Mr. Ryan owned a national music school, the National Institute of Music Art, which operated in 13 western states and western provinces of Canada.  A second music school, the Institute of Educational Music, located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas was also owned and operated by the Ryans. The Institutes were comprised of many thousands of grade school music students. The schools had main offices in Seattle, Los Angeles and Dallas - all connected by Western Union and Teletype.  All music instruments were owned by the school and loaned to students.  With WW II approaching, Ryan filled west coast warehouses with clarinets, trumpets, and violins purchased in Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia. The Ryans also owned and managed real estate holdings in the Western United States: Texas, Arizona, and California.  Mr. Ryan began purchasing Thoroughbreds for breeding in the mid 1930’s. (April 1959 The Blood Horse)


 J.H. Ryan, a Mississippi native, purchases 40 acres in Northridge on Balboa between Lassen and Plummer streets for his private Thoroughbred breeding stock, plus citrus trees, and poultry. He names it Ryana Ranch. Douglas Pregent was the farm manager who resided on the property.  J.H. purchases two Thoroughbred yearlings, Miguel and Pocket of Gold for his two young children, Rosemary and Robert. ◙  “It’s ladies day every day at Ryana Ranch.  There isn’t a male on the grounds.” (Dec. 1950  Thoroughbred of California)


J.H. Ryan, Annette Ryan and Mary Strnad are principals in the purchase of the 120 acre Marwyck Ranch from Zeppo Marx.  They rename it Northridge Farms.  The Ryan’s first ranch, Ryana is located on the NE corner of Plummer Street and Balboa Blvd only a short distance from the newly acquired Northridge Farms.  Lindley Ridge farm is leased from orchestra leader Ted Fio Rito.  All three ranches are located within three miles of each other.  (Sept. 1947  Thoroughbred of California)   ◙  As part of the WW II effort over 40 acres of Marwyck have been planted with crops of tomatoes, corn, squash and melons. (July)  ◙ Thirty-six broodmares reside at Ryana with other private racing stock.  (Nov)  ◙  Style Prince is foaled at Northridge Farms also Free Fault. (Nov. The Blood Horse)

1940 & 50s

Sunday Bar B Q gatherings were often held at Ryana Ranch that was shady and rustic with large picnic tables. Because there were no kitchen facilities all food and coolers were brought in to the ranch.  A wide variety of Thoroughbred racing enthusiasts, owners and breeders frequently socialized at the ranch. Sunday was a day to socialize because the southern California racetracks were closed on Sundays ◙ After the December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, West Coast race tracks went dark until the end of the war, reopening May 14, 1945.  The best of Thoroughbreds are transported by train to race in Chicago and the East Coast.


Harry S. Hart continues as barn manager at Northridge Farms until Ray Wilgus assumes that position.  Hart, Wilgus and Pollock are credited for development of the stallion War Knight winner of the Arlington Handicap in 1945.


 “J. H. Ryan ranked fifth in the standings for California breeders. A remarkable progress.”  (May1956)


Harry S. Hart joins the Louis B. Mayer Stock Farm operation in Perris, California. Ryan combines his three ranches: Ryana, Northridge Farms and the leased Lindley Ridge to operate as one breeding and training business in Northridge,  but each with a specific purpose.  A total of 200 stalls exist between the three ranches;  100 at Northridge Farms, 20 at Lindley Ridge and  50 at Ryana.  J.H., his wife Annette and Ms. Mary Strnad continue managing the business from their Beverly Hills residence.   (November)

     Style Prince, owned by Miss Rosemary Ryan, wins First Race on Santa Anita Derby Day beating Louis B Mayer’s filly, Honeymoon.  (June)


Jacques Cartier becomes Northridge Farms manager – ranch housed 107 Thoroughbreds. Northridge Farms advertised as the “Cradle of Champions.” ◙ War Knight is foaled, broken and trained at Northridge Farms  (March). ◙ The full-length movie, “My Brother Who Talked to Horses”, is completed at Northridge Farms. ◙ “Thoroughbred nursery will continue to resemble a studio lot for some time to come (June) .”  ◙   Dah-He stands at Northridge Farms (October) .


Northridge Farms hosts the Parade of Stallions:  “200 or more horse enthusiasts, including many of the most important breeders and racing stable owners gathered for a breeding center inauguration and planned annual event.  A circus tent outfitted for refreshments, like a field canteen with a bar, hors d’ oeuvres and piano.  Dinner buffet followed after eight stallions of the 1948 season at Northridge were led out and paraded up and down the crowd while announcer Ted Williams gave a running description of each horses feats, blood lines, breeding record or potential.  The studs, bedecked in ribbons and groomed to the n-th degree alternately posed and pirouetted for the audience.”  (January) 


 “The most fortunate possessor of Alibhai blood in California, or anywhere, other than Louis B. Mayer – who is selling out - is J.H. Ryan.”  (May)   Ryan has forty broodmares in his breeding paddocks.


Apple Valley a homebred by Eiffel Tower out of Blue Alibi was foaled February 19, 1950.  He made his debut in Annette Ryan’s silks at Tranforan on May 6, 1953 with Billy Shoemaker aboard and “Red” Mc Daniel trainer.  Apple Valley won  the Santa Anita Maturity on Jan. 30, 1954.  He was retired to stud at Northridge Farms where he stood for two seasons.  (Jan. 2014)     Mary Strnad’s Call Bell wins California Breeders Champion Stakes.  (Dec.)