Ohio horseman Hank LeVan reflects on his career year

Chris Lomon

Nothing could dampen Hank Levan’s temper on this day.

A walk from our home in Woodstock, Ohio, to our barn is usually a welcome one.

The December 23rd scene certainly wasn’t. On this day, widespread winter storms wreaked havoc across much of the United States and Canada, including LeVan Farms.

Still, in the eyes of the standard jockey who had the best years of his career, both as a trainer and a sullen year, it was mostly a minor inconvenience.

“It’s been a good year. Around the middle of summer, I knew it could be a good year. Some of the 2-year-olds really started to step up, the 3-year-olds got sharper, and things were really going in the right direction.” started.”

With a racing background, Levan (trained by his grandfather Herb and owned by his father Louis) started his career as a part-timer in 2017, winning two races from 17 drives and Achieved 7 top 3 finishes. start.

Three years later, he added a trainer to his resume, won 38 races in 234 career starts, and earned $284,066 in prize money. LeVan led his 2020 Buckeye fair his circuit and training his wallet earned $167,636, tying him for third place with 31 wins.

LeVan acknowledged that the 2021 campaign was a year of training 24 winners and leading 28 to victory (he had 45 wins in 2020).

LeVan, who holds a master’s degree in agricultural communication, extension and leadership from Ohio State University, used these results as motivation last season and decided to bounce back with a big campaign.

And that’s exactly what he achieved.

“I would say this year has been a bit of a rebound year. I am happy to be back and put on another strong show.”

Still, the 28-year-old felt there was more he could have accomplished, buyin’ to the high personal standards he set for himself.

“I’m probably my biggest critic. We probably had too many horses for the help we had. I’m wired that way. Get out in the barn and train the horses.” I’d like to do my best to get the next opportunity, whether it’s to ride or drive a horse, and I know I’m not happy if my back isn’t firmly against the wall, but that sounds like a bad thing. increase.

That said, Revan had several reasons to celebrate. Among them was the performance of Rookie Trotter’s Frantastic L, which he co-owns with his wife Megan, Dermofal his racing his ent, and Edward his Perry.

Bred by Andy Burkholder, daughter of Team Six, Perceptive Caviar has gone 10-3-1 from 19 starts in 2022, including three race wins in the Buckeye Stallion Series.

She finished the campaign poorly, finishing ninth in the Buckeye Stallion Series finals, but Frantastic L raised over $70,000 that year.

“She had a very good year. It was great to win the three legs of the Buckeye. I thought she was very well placed to reach the final. It’s been a tough start.Unfortunately she wasn’t on her own in the final, but she’s had a great year.We’ll see if she can come back and see what she can do in 2023. I am excited.”

That he even participates in racing conversations is somewhat pretentious. LeVan has been around horses since a young age, but he was never deeply involved in the sport growing up.

Instead, he was completely immersed in the display and examination of livestock. It was the summer after his junior year of college that his connection to racing began to deepen when his grandfather needed help at a trade fair.

Leban’s interest in sports and horses quickly grew. In fact, he and his father bought a horse together.

It turned out to be a winning investment.

The cursive L stands for the letter adorned in the family’s racing colors and was trained by LeVan’s grandfather, who led LeVan to a milestone first win as a driver at the 2017 Ottawa County Fair. .

Since then he has never looked back.

LeVan now has 24 horses in his busy stable. Although his overtime is a lot, working and raising horses is a labor of love.

“They are all very different: 12 horses turning 2 within a week, 5 turning 3, 3 turning 4 and the rest are older horses. is.”

Of all the lessons he’s learned over the years, LeVan’s regular thoughts were about life, not work.

Observing his grandfather, seeing how he behaves on the racetrack and how he treats others, is a trait he tries to emulate.

“He passed away in September 2021 and everyone who knew him said good things about him. , thinking about what he would do in a given situation, I wish he was here and I could pluck his brains with a horse, but I know he’s proud. But I wish he was here to see it.”

As for what he’s most proud of in his career, LeVan pauses to ponder the question.

“I wasn’t very involved in horse development. My grandfather trained, my father owned, but I helped my grandfather in the barn, I don’t want this to sound the wrong way, but I’ve been in the sport for a long time. I think I’m the type of person who goes full steam ahead when I do something.I do it right and as much as I can. I want to do it on a large scale.”

This is what Revan has accomplished with everything he’s been through, through good times and bad, big wins and bad breaks.

His roadmap to further success is already in place.

“I like training horses, but I would like to be a driver so that I can go where there are more opportunities. I’ve had some success with the drives I’ve been given, so I want to make more of them and be in the right situation to take advantage of them and break through. I get involved in training so I can focus more on driving.

“In the short term, it’s about getting everyone to race. We’ve had some good success with that in the past. I’d say 90% of our horses raced. All of them.” may not be the best, but the majority of them are successful, and with the current 12, I hope they can all participate.”

When he’s not in the barn, it’s all about family for LeVan, the eldest of six children.

Spending time with his wife, their 2-year-old son Perry, and getting ready for their second child in May doesn’t mean much to take it easy, but he doesn’t complain at all. did not say

“This is an exciting time for us. and staying home has made family life more conducive.I come home late.Now I can walk to the barn and see my family.”

A good life that LeVan appreciates.

“I feel so lucky to have discovered my love for racing, just like my grandfather and father did. Some days are tough, but I find a way to get through it and try to make tomorrow better.”

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