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Leveillee On The Shower Play Ride

Published: June 26, 2018 9:46 am ET

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Like the filly that lit up his life, harness racing’s most demonstrative owner now has a month to cool his jets.

“I think I’m more exhausted than the horse,” quipped Martin Leveillee, 51, co-owner of pacer Shower Play, who in a stretch of eight days won the $415,000 Fan Hanover Stakes and Saturday’s $125,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

They were by far the biggest races ever won by a horse in which Leveillee had a stake, and he let loose with some of the most emotional celebrating witnessed in many a moon at Mohawk, including vaulting the fence into the winner’s circle, embracing his trainer, kissing the track after the Fan Hanover and, in his own words, “yelling like a maniac.”

Girlfriend Jo-Anne Boivin, who was with Leveillee, said she didn’t even see the Fan Hanover final as it was unfolding. “He was so intense, I was trying to calm him down, get him to breathe. When I saw the picture later, of him hugging Rene (Dion, trainer and co-owner), I started to cry. It said so much about his passion, sincerity and love of horses.”

“Parts of it, I don’t even remember, to be honest,” said Leveillee, an electrical engineer from St. Blaise, Quebec, who’s owned about ten other horses in the past 15 years; all modestly-priced, none of which had ever made more than $10,000 in total.

“It’s just so unbelievable for me to be living this. Ecstatic isn’t the word. It’s like jumping four steps in one shot...more than a dream. I didn’t come down from the Fan Hanover until the following Tuesday afternoon, when I had to start meeting clients again. I wasn’t even going to go back for the Gold, because the plane tickets were so expensive, but then I thought, ‘How many times in a lifetime will you have a horse in a Gold, regardless of the outcome?’ So I went. She won again.”

Leveillee, who owns a quarter of Shower Play, said his love of horses dates back to his childhood, when he’d go to the races in Montreal with his late father. He even worked one summer as a groom for trainer Benoit Cote at Blue Bonnets.

He was actually shopping around for a share in a trotter when he first approached Dion, who had been recommended to him by friends in the Quebec breeding industry. Dion’s trotters were spoken for already. Shower Play, a $15,000 yearling purchase at the Forest City sale in 2016, was proposed instead and fit his price range.

“I earn a good living, but I’m a small owner. My budget isn’t big,” Leveillee said.

To date, Shower Play has made $324,962.

“My hobby,” Leveillee said, “is costing me nothing right now. How much fun is that?”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean – Photos courtesy of New Image Media)

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