Laoban Among North America’s Top Dozen 1st-Crop Sires With Debut Winners on Dirt & Saratoga Turf

By Rab Hagin

First-crop 2-year-old maiden special debut winners by Grade 2 winner LAOBAN have some similarities and striking differences: His AVA’S GRACE won at five furlongs on Ellis Park dirt against seven rivals on July 3; his SIMPLY RAVISHING won at 1 1/16-miles on Saratoga turf on August 2. Both provided double-digit payoffs by beating open maiden daughters of six-figure-fee stallions. Both were the youngest in their fields (Ava’s Grace is a May 15 foal; Simply Ravishing shared her April birthdate with one rival). Both are the first juvenile debut winners from their unplaced dams, who have previous offspring.

Although Ava’s Grace, a New York-conceived Kentucky homebred racing for Southern Equine Stable LLC, won sprinting, she ran like a router and is currently in training at Saratoga. Simply Ravishing, who races for Harold Lerner LLC, Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek) and Nehoc Stables, already has shown she can go two turns while beating the favored runner-up daughter of an unbeaten English classic winner. Both Ava’s Grace and New York-bred Simply Ravishing are eligible for the New York Stallion Stakes Series.

Finishing behind Ava’s Grace at Ellis Park was a daughter of Laoban’s sire, UNCLE MO, who stands for $125,000 in Kentucky and is the only sire of two of the top-five 2020 first-crop sires in North America. Simply Ravishing’s rivals in her $72,000 contest, in addition to the runner-up daughter of a $230,000-fee sire, included another Uncle Mo filly who placed third plus the daughter of $250,000-fee sire.

Laoban has one of the hottest sire pedigrees among young North American stallions. Uncle Mo – leading first-crop sire in 2015, leading second-crop sire in 2016, and leading third-crop sire in 2017 – has seven graded winners at five different North American tracks in 2020 alone. Laoban’s broodmare sire, SPEIGHTSTOWN, is the sire of the leading North American first-crop sire of 2020 and has sired graded/group winners at six different tracks in four countries (U.S., Japan, France, Canada) in 2020.