Sandy Levine, or “The Governor” as he is called by friends, is a partner of Drawing Away Stables. Since 2008, DAS has seen its horses visit the winner’s circle 129 times from 700 starts (through Nov. 12) — that’s an 18.4 percent win rate.
And 2016 has been the best year in the partnership’s history, as DAS horses have topped the $1 million mark in earnings for the first time and won more races than the past two years combined.
I sat down with Sandy Levine this past May at Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan. Sandy insisted I order a Pastrami sandwich, lean. It was a heavenly experience.
While drinking egg creams, I asked the “Gov” a myriad of questions.
According to Sandy, his love of horses began at an early age — 10 years old — during the Golden Age of racing in New York. As a teenager, he and his Midwood High School buddies would catch the A-train to Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, Queens.
In the Big Apple, Aqueduct is New York City’s racetrack. Affectionately dubbed the Mecca, Aqueduct is Sandy’s favorite betting venue — and he’s been to a few, having visited over three dozen racetracks in the United States.
He says his favorite pastoral venue is Del Mar Surfside Race Place near San Diego, California, noting that the temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees year round and the amenities are fabulous.
Q: Favorite horse and rider as a child?
A: Shy Dawn and Braulio Baeza. I loved the way Baeza sat in the saddle like a statue in the post parade as a kid.
Q: Most Impressive win(s) as an owner?
A: Doctor J. Dub, trained by Jena Antonucci, winning the Grade II Turf Monster Stakes at Parx this fall. A $16,000 claim winning a Grade II is amazing! And, of course, the game gelding Saginaw — a $35,000 claim at Saratoga that earned over $900,000 in his illustrious career.
Q: What is the future of NYRA in your opinion?
A: NYRA needs a strong executive who understands racing and the hospitality industry. Racetracks cannot become movie sets with mechanical horses jogging around the track. When a first-time racegoer comes to a NYRA track, they pay for admission, parking, race program, Racing Form, hot dog, drink… and they are $40 or more in the hole before making their first wager. There is no incentive today for the casual race goer to go see live racing.
Q: What is your opinion of race day medications?
A: If it is required for a horse to race, I see no problem. Lasix helps many horses. However, if it is abused for profit, that is wrong. Monitoring should be nationwide with uniform enforcement. Punishment for repeated violations must have teeth. Assistant trainers should be prohibited from taking over a stable of horses from trainers caught with multiple violations.
We finished up our meal.
“I am very fortunate,” Sandy said. “I have a wonderful family and love my job. Who could ask for more?”