Star sire Laoban dies at 8

Thursday, May 27th, 2021
Laoban winning the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Credit Coglianese Photos.

Laoban winning the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Coglianese Photos.

By Evan Hammonds

Laoban, a star from the first crop of Uncle Mo and the leading freshman sire in New York in 2020, died unexpectedly at WinStar Farm in Central Kentucky, it was reported May 24. Laoban, winner of the 2016 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and the sire of two graded stakes winners in his first crop, was just 8.

Laoban, out of the Speightstown mare Chattertown, was bred in Kentucky by Respite Farm and was a $40,000 purchase by Milfer Farm at the 2013 Keeneland November sale. GEM Stables bought him from the Legacy Bloodstock consignment at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale for $260,000. He was campaigned by McCormick Racing and Southern Equine Stables and trained by Eric Guillot. His lone win from nine starts came in the Jim Dandy, but he was well regarded—all seven of his starts at 3 came in graded stakes company. He placed in Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes (G3) and Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes (G3).

One of 27 black-type stakes winners from the first crop of Uncle Mo, Laoban was a perfect fit for the New York market, he was syndicated in a joint venture among Southern Equine Stables, Sequel Thoroughbreds, McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Thoroughbreds. He stood his first three seasons for $7,500.

“Outstanding physical, son of a freaky sire, speed to burn, and a great ownership group,” said Woodford Thoroughbreds’ Matt Lyons. “A no-brainer.”

“He looks just like Uncle Mo. He’s gorgeous,” said Sequel Stallions’ Becky Thomas in late 2016. “The mares that will be presented to him will be second-to-none as we intend for him to follow in the footsteps of current leading freshman sire Mission Impazible. Laoban offers a unique breed-back option to our Kentucky clients as well as a perfect reason for your New York breeders to stay home.”

She was spot on. Laoban had 79 foals from his first crop. Last year he was represented by 13 winners from 36 starters and had three stakes winners. His $1,559,748 in progeny earnings ranked him second on the national first-crop sires list and that total was good enough for him to rank fifth on the overall New York sires list.

The star of the crop has been Simply Ravishing, who was bred by Meg Levy and raced by Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing, and Nehoc Stables. After winning the P. G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga in early September, she made the big time with her 61/4-length score Oct. 2  in Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1). Later that month Laobanonaprayer won the first of two stakes races for New York-breds. In late November, Keepmeinmind scored in the Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) after finishing second in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1).

Such a stellar performance by a first-crop sire had Kentucky farms inquiring, and a deal was announced in October 2020 to move Laoban to WinStar Farm, where he stood for $25,000.

“My phone lit up before the filly crossed the wire at Keeneland,” said Becky Thomas of Sequel Stallions. “In the following days we were overwhelmed with calls from all of the very top stallion farms in Kentucky.

“Laoban is stamping his foals and proving to be a cookie-cutter of the Uncle Mo style of stretch and athleticism. Since receiving the foals from New York, they certainly looked the part, but once we started training them at Winding Oaks, I knew he was going to be something special. Then, for him to become the first New York stallion to sire a grade 1 winner in his first crop is absolutely incredible. It is truly a humbling experience to be a part of what is becoming such an important young stallion.”

This year Laoban ranks second on the second-crop sires list.

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