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Fred Burlew

Fred Burlew
Induction Year: 
Career Years: 

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   Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 20, 1871, Fred Burlew began as a stablehand at age 11, rode a few horses, and was training a stable of 50 for Dan Hoenig by age 18. Burlew won his first stakes race with Gotham in 1894.

   Burlew is best known for conditioning the Hall of Fame filly Beldame. At 3, she beat the best fillies and mares in the Alabama, Gazelle and Ladies, and the best colts and handicappers in the Saratoga Cup, Carter and First and Second Specials.

   In 1908, Burlew left America with rider Frank O’Neill to train in France. Burlew worked with Clarence McKay’s horses on flat racing and over the jumps. During his first year in France, although working with a small stable, Burlew won 28 races. His star was Rose Noble, a winner of six consecutive races before being acquired by the French government for their stud. He returned to America in 1916 after personally rescuing a number of fine racehorses endangered by troop movements and fighting in World War I. 

   Aside from the great Beldame, Burlew’s other memorable accomplishment was prepping Morvich, known as the “ugly cripple.” No one thought Morvich could run until Burlew proved them wrong. After an unbeaten season at 2, Burlew saddled Morvich for his 12th and final win in the Kentucky Derby.

   When Burlew died in 1927 at age 56, turf writers Michael W. Casale and John I. Daly wrote: “His passing is felt throughout the world. No finer sportsman, no better personality ever drew breath, He was honest and just, and took particular pains in his desire always to give the other fellow the breaks. He passed on to many young men on the turf not only his encouragement, faith and financial help, but his uncanny skill in taking the lame and sore horses and making them into winners through exasperating patience and nursing.”

   For his career, Burlew saddled 977 winners and won 124 stakes races.

   Fred Burlew was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1973.