Out with the old, and in with the new. As we cast 2013 gently away from the shoreline that is our lives, it is time for us all, in our own way, to welcome in that which is new. Much like the way we heartily christen the coming 365 days as 2014; I believe now is the time that we should welcome in a whole new generation of race fans. In with the new, being the vital component in the opening thought, I am thrilled to introduce to you Horse Racing Nation’s 2013 Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year, Averie Levanti.
15-years-young, and already recognized as Princess of Sylmar’s #1 fan, make no mistake, this race fan from Pennsylvania is serious about her love for horse racing. Like many of our own experiences, when racing hit, it hit hard for Averie.
“I got into racing at the very beginning of 2011 after buying the book Secretariat. I hadn't a single clue on the sport of horse racing prior to that, my only past memory was a fuzzy remembrance of watching Barbaro breakdown during the 2006 Preakness Stakes, while at a friends house," said Averie. "I was only 12 years old at the time I read Secretariat, but the story intrigued me and I found myself researching and absorbing as much information as I could on horse racing. I became a goner for the sport when I chose a chestnut colt with a big white blaze named Shackleford to win that year's Preakness.”
We all know what she means when she says she was a goner. When horse racing gets in the blood, it is near impossible to expel from the mind, body, and soul. All of which, I know to be true of Averie.
I have known Averie for more than a year through the pages of Horse Racing Nation and Facebook. While I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her in person, I quickly became impressed with not only her thoughtful comments and analysis, but her writing ability in articles that she submitted in our Be a Turf Writer program. Clearly the world is still her oyster, but a budding career may have been born on the pages of HRN in 2013.
“Racing is no longer just a love to me, it's my all around passion. I plan on pursuing a career in the racing industry, I just haven't nailed down exactly what yet," remarked Averie. "I absolutely love to write so a career in journalism would be a dream.”
As someone who writes about the horses, I am quite certain that Averie has the most important ingredient to become a successful turf writer, if that is what she chooses. That, of course, being passion. It may have been Secretariat and Shackleford that got her into the game, but it is Princess of Sylmar that was the object of much of her affection in 2013. So much so, that she was invited backstage by owner, Ed Stanco, to meet her current racing heroine up close and personal.
Averie, is far from only a fair weather fan, though, as I witnessed firsthand in her unwavering support of the Princess after her defeat in the Breeders' Cup. From the numerous messages on Facebook with friend, Casey Laughter, that they included me in on, to the numerous blogs written in continuing belief in Princess of Sylmar, Averie is nothing, if not loyal to the horse that she loves. She is also very in tune with the infinite layers of experiences to be found at the racetrack.
“Freezing cold nights at Penn National and misty early mornings on the Parx backstretch further fueled my love for racing," said Averie. "I think what got me to love racing so much is the fact that there's always more to learn and there's nothing that gives you a greater adrenaline rush then when the field turns for home. Shackleford brought me to love the sport of racing to the extent I do today, but the horse who is currently waiting to help me continue my journey onward is Princess of Sylmar.”
Selecting the Fan of the Year is no easy task. The number of wonderful people that I come across which feel about racing as strongly as I do is countless. While I considered many for the honor this year, it was Averie who best fit the qualities I was looking for. She is young, passionate, and tireless in her love for the sport of horse racing, and the wondrous athletes who compete within the game designed for our pleasure. More than that, though, Averie recognizes the need for the next generation to grab the reigns and strive to make the sport better than it was before she came.
“I would love to somehow start something for youth in racing, because there is a large fan base of the younger generation, Instagram has made that apparent. There are tons. I just wish there was a way for them all to get more involved," explained Averie. "I've tried my hardest to be involved and I can say I'm proud of the minimal progress I've made so far [lol]. I'd like to make a difference in racing. That's my goal. I want to open up opportunities for people like me. I want to see a resurgence in racing, and my dream is to be a part of what led to that resurgence. I want to make some type of a difference.”
Big dreams for a young girl with all the time and the love needed to make those dreams come true. Congratulations, Averie Levanti, you are Horse Racing Nation’s 2013 Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year!