08/03/2017 2:16PM

Glen Hill Farm owner Lavin dies at 97

Leonard Lavin's greatest success on the track was One Dreamer, who won the 1994 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Leonard Lavin, a successful entrepreneur and the owner of Glen Hill Farm, died Wednesday. He was 97.

A native of Chicago, Lavin graduated from the University of Washington and spent four years in the U.S. Navy before he purchased and reorganized the beauty-care supply manufacturer Alberto-Culver in 1955. The company created products under brands including Alberto VO5, St. Ives, TRESemmé, and Nexxus, among others.

A lifelong horse-racing fan, Lavin bought Glen Hill Farm in Ocala, Fla., in 1966 and developed it into an elite racing and breeding operation both within the state and nationally. More than 80 runners won stakes races under his orange, white, and black colors, and the farm expanded into breeding in 1971.

Lavin’s greatest success on the racetrack came from 1994 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner One Dreamer, a homebred who upended the race at Churchill Downs at odds of 47-1. Churchill proved to be One Dreamer’s track of choice, having won the Grade 2 Louisville Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap there earlier in the season to account for another of her six career stakes wins.

The Breeders’ Cup score was a particularly sweet return on investment for Lavin, who sponsored a Breeders’ Cup race through Alberto-Culver from 1990 to 2005.

One Dreamer was a daughter of another Glen Hill runner, multiple Grade 3 winner Relaunch, who went on to a successful career as a stallion. Relaunch continues to have a presence as a notable broodmare sire.

Other runners campaigned by Glen Hill Farm include Grade 1 winners Convenience and Marketing Mix; Grade 2 winners Top Rung, Wishing Gate, and Banned; Grade 3 winners Concept Win, Rich in Spirit, and Closeout; and stakes winner Repriced.

Lavin connected with trainer Willard Proctor early in his ownership endeavor and kept his horses under Proctor’s shed row for decades to great success. Though it wasn’t a stakes race, the duo’s most fondly remembered triumph is arguably the 1972 match race at Hollywood Park between Convenience and the champion Typecast.

Lavin and Fletcher Jones, the owner of Typecast, each put up $100,000, while the host track added $50,000 for a total purse of $250,000, making it the richest match race in U.S. history at the time. With Jerry Lambert in the irons, the underdog Convenience prevailed by a head in the 1 1/16-mile race over Bill Shoemaker and Typecast before a crowd of more than 53,000.

The working relationship between Lavin and Proctor carried into future generations with Willard’s sons. Tom Proctor trains the Glen Hill string and saddled One Dreamer to her Breeders’ Cup score, while Hap Proctor has managed Glen Hill farm since 1990.

Lavin was named Florida Breeder of the Year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in 1994, and he earned the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2015.

Lavin turned over control of Glen Hill Farm to his grandson, Craig Bernick, in 2008. Lavin continued to serve as the farm’s chairman until his death, while Bernick is Glen Hill’s president and chief executive.