Simply Ravishing rolls in Grade 1 Alcibiades

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Simply Ravishing and her connections celebrate Grade 1 victory Friday in Darley Alcibiades. Keeneland Photo.

By Tom Law

When Kenny McPeek likes one he’ll let you, or anyone, know about it.

He liked Simply Ravishing, a New York-bred daughter of New York-based freshman sire Laoban, well before she made her debut at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 2. She won that day going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, on McPeek’s 58th birthday in a race the trainer picked out not because he felt Simply Ravishing was better on grass but because he could run her longer than the one-turn sprint maiden races on offer at Saratoga. He liked her that day, when she won at 14-1, and again a month later when she became her sire’s first stakes winner winning the off-the-turf P. G. Johnson Stakes at 5-2.

Heading into the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades on Opening Day at Keeneland Friday afternoon, yes, you guessed it, McPeek liked her again even pitted against stablemates Crazy Beautiful and Oliviaofthedesert.

“This is a really high-level talented filly,” McPeek said before the 1 1/16-mile stakes that offers an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies as a ‘Win And You’re In’ race. “She’s been really impressive. She has worked exceptionally fast at Churchill and I’m excited about her chances.”

Simply Ravishing lived up to the billing, earned the Juvenile Fillies berth and perhaps even the favorite’s role and kept Sequel Stallions’ Laoban on a roll in his first season.

The 2-year-old filly bred by Meg Levy out of a mare she bought for $500 became Laoban’s first graded stakes winner in the $350,000 Alcibiades. Laoban, a Grade 2 winner by Uncle Mo who stands for $5,000, started the day ranked 15th on the North American freshman sire list and the $210,000 earned by Simply Ravishing helped vault him clearly into the top 10.

Simply Ravishing, who led from the start in the Alcibiades, gave McPeek his fifth win in Keeneland’s signature 2-year-old filly stakes. He now trails only Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas by just one victory on the all-time list.

Simply Ravishing dominated the field, winning by 6 ¼ lengths under Luis Saez over 2-1 favorite Crazy Beautiful with Travel Column another 1 ¼ lengths back in third.  Now 3-for-3 with a bankroll of $304,600 for owners Harold Lerner, Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables, Simply Ravishing won in 1:43.58.

“They are both really special fillies. I kind of hated to run them against each other, but it is a race we are obviously fond of and we felt like we had a heck of a chance with both of them in there,” McPeek said. “We will probably go to the Breeders’ Cup with both of them. I told (D. Wayne) Lukas a long time ago that I would win more Alcibiades than him.”

Saez rode Simply Ravishing in her debut and the P. G. Johnson and didn’t hesitate to make the trip to Lexington from New York to ride the $50,000 buy at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. He came away impressed, at the filly’s ability to break well, cruise and kick on in the lane.

“I knew two very fast horses were inside,” Saez said of Grade 2 Adirondack winner Thoughtfully and Churchill maiden winner Travel Column. “(I thought) let’s break from there and see what they’re doing. She breaks so sharp; she was right there. It was easy. … She was traveling pretty good. I felt like I had a lot of horse all the way. When we came to the straight, she just took off. She did it pretty easy, like normal. Like nothing. It was amazing. She’s a very good filly.”

Levy, who runs Bluewater Sales with her husband Michael, bought Four Wishes for $500 in 2017 after the mare was abandoned at a boarding facility.

“It was on my birthday in February and we were driving over to the Fasig-Tipton February sale,” Meg Levy said after Simply Ravishing’s maiden victory. “Someone called me and said ‘there’s a mare by More Than Ready that is in a bad place, she’s been abandoned and the boarding farm is just trying to sell her for whatever they can get.’ I asked what her name was and they said ‘Four Wishes’ and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, how can I resist stopping by to see a mare named Four Wishes on my birthday?’ I arrived and she was pretty thin and something just told me that she deserved a better place so I gave the guy $500 and we picked her up.”

Levy felt the opportunity to participate in the New York-bred program would help the mare, in foal at the time to Revolutionary, so she shipped her to the Empire State to be foal and later be bred to Laoban.

“I have felt that the weanlings and the yearlings in the last few years being New York-bred has made them 20 percent more valuable so that was the decision,” she said. “She came out with a great looking baby that we got lucky with. (Simply Ravishing) was supposed to go to the New York-bred sale in Saratoga and when the staff went to load her on the van, she kicked the wall so hard she cracked her foot so she couldn’t ship and had to go to the October sale.

“It was great that Kenny was around to buy her because where they go is obviously very important. We were pleasantly surprised. Kenny had been sending us some videos over the last couple of the days before the race and I thought to myself ‘he isn’t sending videos because he doesn’t like her.’ ”

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