One of the Lexington area's largest and most historic properties has a new owner from abroad. Dr. Tony Ryan lives in Ireland where he founded an airline, Ryanair, and owns three Thoroughbred farms. Now he owns 1,073 acres of famous Kentucky Bluegrass.
Ryan paid $14 million for Castleton Farm, according to Fayette County records, or just over $13,000 per acre. What he gets for that outlay is 254 stalls in 13 barns, the 10,000 square foot Van Lennep mansion (circa 1840), a stallion barn, and a veterinary facility, located in Fayette County at Iron Works Road and Mt. Horeb Pike. Ryan has named Irishman Gabriel Duignan as president of the operation, which purchased the property in the name Castleton Lyons Inc.
Ryan owns Kilboy Estate, in County Tipperary, and Lyons Demesne and Swordlestown Stud in County Kildare. He was active at last Keeneland's mixed sale last November, and bought at this year's Keeneland July yearling sale.
The three tracts of land that comprised Castleton were listed for sale in August of 2000 by Lexington real estate agent Bill Justice. The middle-sized parcel, 191 acres, was purchased within a month of its listing by Ben and Elaine Walden and renamed Gracefield. The largest parcel, which Ryan purchased, had an asking price of $17.5 million, or about $16,314 per acre.
Since 1945 Castleton has been owned by the Van Lennep family and has been one of the largest Standardbred breeding operations in the country. From 1893-1912, the farm was owned by James R. Keene, who while based there, owned or bred, then stood five Belmont Stakes winners: Spendthrift (1879), Commando (1901), Delhi (1904), Peter Pan (1907), and Colin (1908).