She Changed the Breed Forever
Purchased from Quebec breeder Pierre Levesque, shortly after having her fourth foal, by Alan Leavitt’s Walnut Hall Limited, it was hard to imagine at that time that Amour Angus would have the effect she did on the North American trotting breed.
Andover Hall (head)
Her next five foals to sell at auction would
bring just shy of $1.6 million combined, and three of her
sons and their descendants would help strengthen and change
the breed forever. By Rachel Oenema.
One of the hardest aspects of our industry is the breeding
side of the sport. Oftentimes, we don’t give the breeders of
our beloved Standardbreds enough credit. There can be a
major investment of time and money with little return. One
could spend years, and tens-of-thousands of dollars or more,
trying to get a mare in foal, only to have her not catch
season after season. One could spend a significant amount of
money breeding a mare and raising a foal, only to have that
sire’s offspring have a bad season and squander your
yearling sale price. From the day a mare is bred, to the day
a foal is born, to the day a yearling is sold, to the day
that yearling makes its career debut, a lot can happen.
Personally, I’ve never been closely attached to the breeding
industry, aside from watching my father breed mediocre mares
to mediocre stallions, which produced less than mediocre
racehorses — but I got to help name them, and at that time
in my life that was all I really cared about.
However, more recently I had the honour and pleasure of
getting to know one of the biggest names in the history of
the North American Standardbred breeding industry, Alan
Leavitt of Walnut Hall Limited in Lexington, Kentucky.
Walnut Hall is the birthplace of dominant trotting and
pacing icons such as Cash Hall, Amigo Hall, Banker Hall,
Angus Hall, Andover Hall, Cameron Hall, Cantab Hall and
It is also the driving force behind great stallion careers
such as those associated with Striking Sahbra, Tom Ridge,
Cambest and Like A Prayer, and today is still in charge of
the stallion careers of Conway Hall and Deweycheatumnhowe,
and is home to a dozen broodmares.
If you’ve ever spoken to Mr. Leavitt you’d soon appreciate
the ways that he has helped to revolutionize the breeding
game on multiple occasions. He is very observant and never
says no to sitting down for a conversation to pick his
brain. Rightfully so, Alan Leavitt’s name is enshrined into
the Harness Racing Hall Of Fame in Goshen, New York.
From some of the most successful syndications to some of the
most successful pairings, with everything that he and Walnut
Hall have accomplished since being established in 1993, Alan
Leavitt now has one more thing to be ever so proud of - the
induction of Amour Angus into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall
This story begins in 1987 when unraced trotting mare Kenwood
Scamper gives birth to her first foal (by Magna Force) at
Fermes Angus in Bedford, Quebec, owned by Pierre Levesque.
The filly, named Amour Angus, pursued an average career on
the track, but did win three Quebec Sire Stakes events at
age two, in 1989. She earned $21,355 in her career, took a
mark of 2:03.1f and was a winner in six of 16 lifetime
Little did anyone know that after her final start on July 6,
1990 at Blue Bonnets, where she made a break in stride while
on the lead, dragging her back to sixth place, that she
would become if not the greatest, one of the greatest
trotting broodmares of all time.
The first foal to come from Amour Angus was a Garland Lobell
filly, Emilie Cas El, who would go undefeated as a 2YO for
trainer/driver Dustin Jones and win O’Brien Awards that year
for both two-year-old trotting fillies and overall Horse Of
The Year in Canada. Emilie Cas El furthered her fame abroad
while racing throughout Sweden, Norway, Italy and Finland
before becoming a broodmare herself. As a broodmare she’s
the producer of winners of more than $1.6 million and is the
dam of 2014 Hambletonian winner and current trotting sire
With three more foals on the ground following Emilie Cas El,
including another Garland Lobell (colt) by her side, enter
Alan Leavitt, who was interested in purchasing the
broodmare. Amour Angus’ breeder, and owner at the time,
Pierre Levesque, had recently had his world shaken, with the
passing of his mother, and after negotiating with the
well-known Canadian breeder, a deal was struck to buy the
mare for $50,000. Originally the foal by her side was not to
be part of the deal, but was eventually included for an
additional $8,500. The mare was also checked and in-foal
once again to Garland Lobell.
The purchase would prove to be a well paying trifecta for
Leavitt - a purchase which at the time he had no idea to
which the gold he had just struck.
“Racing in Quebec was facing difficult times, thus provoking
the opportunity to purchase Amour Angus. I remember a
conversation with Mr. Levesque in which he wanted Amour to
have the best chance possible to become a successful
broodmare,” says Leavitt as he retells the tale of how he
purchased the new hall of famer.
The foal by her side was renamed Conway Hall - a colt that
would go on to earn $818,884, winning 13 of 29 starts and
taking a lifetime mark of 1:53.4 at the Meadowlands. Despite
his outstanding racing career, it is his prolific stallion
career that Conway Hall is most well known for — being the
sire of five millionaires which include Wishing Stone ($2.3
million) and Windsongs Legacy ($1.9 million).
“Conway Hall got his name from a friend of mine named Jack
Conway who helped orchestrate the deal when purchasing Amour
Angus. At that time my wife Meg was doing the naming, and we
decided to name the foal that we bought by her side Conway
Hall,” Leavitt proudly recalls.
Conway Hall continued to pass on his dam’s legacy through
his own foals that became stallions such as Windsongs Legacy
(sire of Lucky Chucky, Chapter Seven, Windsong Soprano and
Tad The Stud), Broadway Hall, (sire of Hambletonian winner
Broad Bahn, and Pilgrims Taj) and Wishing Stone. Conway Hall
is also a sire of many great mares such as Win Missy B,
Creamy Mimi, and Pizza Dolce - the dam of Bella Dolce and
“Bob Stewart came to visit us at our farm and told me that
he wanted to buy Conway Hall, that he had a partnership
group lined up to put forth the money. On the morning of the
day Conway Hall was to sell as a yearling at the Tattersalls
Sale, Bob came to me and told me he couldn’t get it done -
he said he could take a quarter, and another partner of his
would take fifty percent, but there was still another
twenty-five percent to make up for. So I took the
twenty-five percent and that was that. To this day I still
syndicate Conway Hall.”
The foal Amour Angus was carrying at the time she was
purchased would eventually become Angus Hall. Another
champion offspring of the indestructible pairing of Amour
Angus and Garland Lobell.
Angus Hall would sell at the Tattersalls Yearling Sale and
enjoy an on-track career where he would earn $830,654,
winning eight of 26 starts, while finishing second in the
1999 Hambletonian. He too would go on to have an exceptional
stallion career, recently retiring from stud duty with
almost $105 million in progeny earnings (behind only
Balanced Image and Speedy Crown), with six millionaires,
including Peaceful Way ($3.2 million) and proven sire
Majestic Son ($1.9 million).
Angus Hall was inducted into the Canadian Hall Of Fame in
2019 as one of the most successful trotting stallions in
“Bob [Stewart] was able to successfully get a group together
to purchase Angus as yearling, and they paid us $125,000 for
him,” says Leavitt.
Amour Angus would produce pure dynamite at least once more
in her breeding career, three years after Angus, when she
foaled the spectacular Andover Hall.
Andover Hall, a full brother to Emilie, Conway and Angus,
earned $875,047 throughout his career while winning half of
his 22 starts. He may have actually become a millionaire if
not for the fact that he escaped from his paddock at a farm
near Mohawk Racetrack a few days before he was certain to be
one of the favourites in the Breeders Crown for
three-year-old trotting colts, and suffered a career-ending
Just like his brothers, while his racing career is not
undermined, it is his stallion career that is even more
prominent. The sire of nine millionaires including Nuncio
($3.5 million), Donato Hanover ($3 million) and Creatine
($2.1 million), Andover Hall is also the grandsire of stars
like Shake It Cerry, Check Me Out, The Bank, Your So Vain
and When Dovescry.
“Andover was the most beautiful colt she threw. He was big,
he was strong, he was everything you wanted in a horse.
Everyone was all over him — wanting to buy him as a
yearling, but when the hammer dropped at $482,000 it was
Erkki Laakkonen that took him home. He gave Andover to Bob
Stewart to train because he had done so well with his
brothers. Laakkonen purchased quite a few of Amour’s foals.”
Speaking of her foals, the windfall that Leavitt secured as
part-owner of Conway, and seller/breeder of Angus and
Andover was only part of what made his original purchase so
shrewd - in the years following the sale of Andover Hall,
siblings E L Stewart, Adams Hall and Allstar Hall sold for
$450,000, $250,000, and $270,000 respectively. Not a bad
return on the original $50,000 investment!
While Leavitt, Levesque and Amour deserve the bulk of the
credit due, Leavitt has no fear in crediting trainer Bob
Stewart for the champions he created out of Amour Angus’
offspring. Bob Stewart would indeed be the trainer of record
for all the career starts of Conway, Angus and Andover Hall.
“I have to give Bob a lot of credit, he trained the trio of
brothers and did exceptionally well with all of them. I know
it all comes from Amour, but the job Bob did training her
foals really put her on the map as well.”
We all know in this business that one of the hardest things
about the game is to not get too attached to horses, as it’s
a business and they come and go. “I don’t get too attached
to the foals, you can’t let yourself because you know when
they are born that when they become yearlings they will be
sold…” But, if pressed to choose a favourite of Amour Angus’
foals Leavitt would say Conway Hall.
“Conway was the best sire she produced, for he was the first
one to produce a Hambletonian winner. At his peak, he was
one of the greatest trotting stallions in North America. He
still stands in New York and when he is retired from
stallion duty, he will come home to Walnut Hall. It’s
actually quite weird, but none of her foals had a lot of
similarities between them. There was no specific stamp that
she left on her foals.”
Mr. Leavitt continued to link all the pieces of the Amour
Angus family tree that have had a major impact on the
“To be frank, the entire family is pure gold. You can spend
hours upon hours researching the amazing horses that come
from this family line. I bought Amour’s sister Canne Angus
and kept one of her daughters named Canland Hall. Canland
Hall’s first foal was Cantab Hall — and that name speaks for
itself. He produced colts that have gone on to their own
stallion careers now like Father Patrick, Explosive Matter,
Mets Hall, Il Sogno Dream, My MVP, Wheeling N Dealin,
Musical Rhythm and mares like Wild Honey and Lifetime
“Look at Conway’s son Windsongs Legacy, he is the sire of
Chapter Seven, another name that speaks for itself — he is
the sire of another Hambletonian winner Atlanta. Amour Angus
and her family completely changed the trotting breed.”
Amour Angus was inducted into the same [U.S.] Hall Of Fame
as her owner in 2008 for her accomplishments and
contributions to the industry. However, she laid her soul to
rest after an injury she succumbed to in 2009. She is buried
in the Walnut Hall Cemetery.
“She was twenty-two when she was euthanized, it was a tragic
and terrible thing. But she got to live out the best years
of her life right on the farm. It’s very bittersweet as she
passed away too soon and [was still] very fertile, we were
doing embryo transfers with her foals.”
Perhaps the most important question asked to Mr. Leavitt
throughout our interview was not about Amour Angus’ foals,
not about what her foals accomplished and what their foals
went on to accomplish, but how it felt knowing that her name
will now be etched into the walls of another Hall Of Fame.
“It is the most wonderful thing,” notes a heartfelt Leavitt.
“She is one of the few mares that is in both Hall Of Fames.
She deserves this recognition and this really completes her
legacy. I cannot say it enough times how she changed the
whole course of the Standardbred breed.”
“The best way to describe Amour in one word was beautiful.
She was beautiful. She was the perfect size, not too big and
not too small and she was very laid back. She was an
absolutely fantastic mother to all of her foals. She was a
prized possession, you probably will never see anything like
Hats off to you Amour Angus, not only for your successful
breeding career but also for the impact you have had on the
entire Standardbred breed. If there is one thing I know for
certain, it would be that your legacy will continue on for
years and years to come.