Robert P. Levy, known universally as Bob and a widely-respected figure in the world of Thoroughbred racing, sports, philanthropy and civic affairs passed away peacefully on Nov. 7, close to his home in Bryn Mawr, Penn. He was 87 years of age.
Bob is survived by his wife of 63 years Rochelle (Cissie), his five children, Kathryn, Wendy, Robert Jr., Angela and Michael and 12 grandchildren. Two of his children continue Bob's long association with the Thoroughbred industry. His son Michael is the president of Thoroughbred insurance specialist Muirfield Insurance and Michael's wife, Meg, operates Bluewater Sales in Lexington, Ky. Bob's youngest daughter Angela is the wife of Anthony Beck of Gainesway Farm, also in Lexington.
Bob Levy was born in Philadelphia in 1931. His introduction to racing began in his teens, when his father, Leon, joined a small investment group of friends and family in the creation of Atlantic City Race Course in the mid-1940s. Bob graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was later appointed to its Board of Trustees. He excelled in and enjoyed tennis all his life, supporting the University's team on the courts and in its management, which resulted in his induction into its Tennis Hall of Fame. In his early entrepreneurial days, he acquired controlling interest in Atlantic City and, as the track's chairman, had involvement in the track's operations as a major shareholder until the 1980s.
Levy owned and bred Thoroughbreds all his adult life. In 1985, he purchased from Lane's End Farm a bay colt by Sporting Life and named him Bet Twice. Racing for Cisely Stable and Levy and trained by his life-long friend Warren (Jimmy) Croll, Bet Twice was one of the best 3-year-old colts of 1987, winning the G1 Belmont Stakes by 14 lengths over his arch-rival Alysheba. Bet Twice retired to stud at Lane's End and spent his last years pensioned at Muirfield East, at that time the Levy family's farm in Chesapeake City, Md.. Another auction purchase was Eclipse Champion Sprinter of 1997 Smoke Glacken, who stood his entire stallion career at Gainesway Farm.
For his tireless support and generosity, Levy was named Man of the Year by the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, a charitable foundation providing sport and recreational opportunities for inner-city children. He was president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association in 1989 and 1990 and was appointed to President Ronald Reagan's Council for Physical Fitness and Sports. Levy was active in the direction of Fasig-Tipton, as a shareholder and member of its board of directors, from 1988 to 2008.
The highlight of Bob Levy's achievements on the racetrack came with Housebuster, which he co-owned with his close friend and business associate James (Jim) Murphy. Foaled at the Clarkland Farm of Fred Mitchell in Kentucky, bred by Levy's mother Blanche and Murphy Stable and trained principally by Jimmy Croll, Housebuster was Eclipse champion sprinter in both 1990 and 1991. Bob Levy was on hand in 2013 at Saratoga, when Housebuster was inducted in the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.
“We've had a few good horses, Bet Twice won the Belmont and Closed Door won some stakes, but Housebuster's the only one in the Hall of Fame and I'm thrilled. That's as high as you can get. You don't realize until afterwards how hard it is to do.”
A Memorial Service for Robert P. Levy will be held on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 12:30 p.m., Joseph Levine & Sons, 4737 Street Road, Trevose, PA 1905. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Thoroughbred Charities of America www.tca.org – (859) 276-4989), P O Box 910668, Lexington, KY 40591-0668
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