Photo: Frank Levanti
“Racing’s Future” is a new Q&A series in which I aspire
to help everyone in the industry. In addition to shining a spotlight on youth
who plan to have a career in horse racing, I hope that the opinions expressed
in their responses will offer industry leaders insight into what a younger
audience believes the sport should improve upon.
Meet Averie Levanti
15-year-old Averie Levanti, who may
be familiar to Horse Racing Nation fans and readers for being honored as the 2013 Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year,
resides just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. Averie has been an avid fan of
racing for the past three years. Passionate for photography and writing, it is
her goal to make a living in the racing industry. Follow her on Instagram, @averieelizabethh, to see her racing photos
How did you become interested in
I read Bill Nack's book on Secretariat when I was in sixth grade and 12
years old. Never would I have thought when I walked into that book store that I
would be walking out with the book that literally changed my life and made it
what it is today.
What do you love about horse
Nothing matches the adrenaline rush you get when the field turns for
home. It's truly the greatest and most exciting sport in the world. Seeing
those animals run is incredible and unlike anything else. And above all else,
there's always more to learn. You learn every day, but you can never truly know
Who are some of the people you
admire in the industry and why?
This is difficult because I look up to so many people! Barbara Livingston
is a standout because I have a growing interest in photography and I've always
admired hers, but Eric Kalet edges her out slightly as my favorite
photographer. I have way too many writers and columnists to name. Tons of
jockeys, trainers, and owners: Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Javier Castellano,
Joel Rosario, Johnny V, Rosie Napravnik, Shug McGaughey, Kathy Ritvo, Todd
Pletcher, David Jacobson, Jerry Hollendorfer, Bill Mott, Dale Romans, Ed
Stanco, Mike Repole, the Moss's, the Ramsey's. I could continue, but I'm
What aspects of horse racing do you
wish you knew more about?
I'm much stronger on the racing industry than I am the breeding industry.
While I still know a good deal on the breeding industry, I'd like to learn
more. I also wish I knew a lot more on things such as a horse's conformation
since it usually plays such an important role in selecting the proper racehorse
and could ultimately lead to how a horse ends up performing on the track.
What racetracks have you been to?
Penn National, Parx, Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, Delaware, and Monmouth.
(Churchill and Pimlico soon to be added!)
What is your favorite racetrack?
Belmont Park with Saratoga and Delaware close runner-ups. The presence
and beauty of Belmont is unlike any other racetrack I've ever been to.
Of the racetracks you have not been
to, which one do you want to visit most?
Churchill Downs is a big one, but that is soon to be checked off the
list. So aside from that, probably Santa Anita Park or Gulfstream.
What are your favorite moments in
your “horse racing life” thus far?
Princess of Sylmar winning
the Kentucky Oaks after I chose her to win the race four months prior. Super
Saturday when she won the Beldame was the greatest day of my life. Being able
to become so close with the Stanco's and Princess has been a dream come true.
Orb's Derby, Shackleford's Preakness, and attending last year's Belmont are big
stand outs also. And meeting Smarty Jones!
Who are your favorite racehorses of
your lifetime? Before your lifetime?
My favorite horse of all time has to be Princess of Sylmar. She's one of
the greatest sources of pride, happiness, and love in my life. Shackleford was
the horse who brought me to love racing to the extent I do today so he holds a
special place in my heart. I've always adored Ben's Cat also. He won the first
stakes race I ever witnessed at a track. Before my lifetime is hands-down
Kelso. I'm a diehard fan and believe he's the greatest racehorse who ever
lived. Spectacular Bid is a close second.
If you could change something about
the industry, what would you change?
This sport always appears to be on a constant downhill spiral and because
of that racetracks are trying their hardest to come up with new ways to draw
more people to the track and television networks are searching for ways to
attract more viewers. One thing that I've come to notice is a lot is focused,
for example, on what celebrities are attending and what they're wearing and
whatnot. And when I say "a lot", I mean too much. Yeah, it's cool and
all that there's celebrities attending major races but myself, as a diehard
racing fan, honestly doesn't care who's there and what they're wearing. I don't
care how luxurious the track may be. All I care about is the horses. I mean,
that's what we're at the track or watching for, right? It seems to me in order
to bring more interest into the sport, the attention is being shifted away from
the horses. Too much is being focused on the social aspect of the sport and
that's not what this sport is about. It's about the horses, bottom line.
What do you think is preventing
horse racing from being a more popular sport?
Actually found this quite a difficult question, but one thing that does
stand out to me is the way racing is viewed from the outside and how negative
press tends to be. You never see racing making the news. If anything it's who
won that year's Kentucky Derby, and usually when it does make the news it's
just yet another relentless attack on the sport. Press focuses in on the
negative aspects of the sport rather than the positive ones, and someone
hearing this from outside the sport only knows of the negative light being cast
upon it because that's all that's ever talked about. Eight Belles is a prime
What do you think is the most common
misconception about horse racing?
This could go along with the previous question. Nearly every time I
mention racing to someone new for the first time I always get the "Oh,
that sport is horrible! It's so bad for the horses! They get treated so poorly and
are run to death!" And that just goes to show the majority of the general
public's view on horse racing. People don't realize that these animals are bred
and born to run. Unfortunately there are some horses who are treated poorly,
but most are under great handling and care and are truly loved. Mishaps and
injuries are a regularity for any sport, but people dwell on and attack this
sport more than others because the athletes aren't human.
How would you convince someone who
is not an avid follower of horse racing to begin following the sport?
I would try my hardest to get them to go to the track one day with me.
One can't truly capture the essence of the sport without physically being in
attendance at a horse race. Whether it be a grade one or a $5,000 claiming
race, you still get the same rush when at the track in person.
What career do you plan to pursue
in the horse racing industry?
Writing is my favorite thing in the world so my dream is to get a degree
in journalism and hopefully become a turf writer.
How are you currently contributing
to the horse racing industry?
I've used social media for the past couple years to connect with other
fans of racing. I've posted a few articles on HRN in the past with mostly
positive feedback and my biggest accomplishment was being named HRN's 2013 Tim
Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year.
What is one
thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse racing industry?
I'd just love to make some type of a difference. In my most recent
article, "Lack of Youth and the Demise of Racing", I touched in on the topic of the youth community in
racing and the very limited opportunities available today. I'd love to open
doors and create opportunities through organizations for the younger generation
of racing that I didn't necessarily have available to myself.