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Preston M. Burch

Preston M. Burch
Induction Year: 
Aug. 25, 1884, Atlanta, Ga.
April 8, 1978
Career Years: 
Number of Winners: 

Tab Wrapper


The son of Hall of Fame trainer William Burch and the father of Hall of Fame trainer Elliott Burch, Preston Burch enjoyed success as a breeder, owner and trainer of racehorses for himself and others both in America and overseas for more than a half-century.


Burch began training in 1902, saddling his first winner, Stuyve, that year at Gravesend. His early success attracted wealthy patrons for whom he trained stakes winners on the flat and over fences in New York, Canada, Cuba, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy before World War I. With racing in New York shut down in 1911 and 1912, Burch enjoyed success in Europe for owners such as John Sanford, William Astor Chanler, Harry LaMontagne and George P. Eustis. One of Burch’s top victories abroad came in the Grand Steeplechase International in Milan, Italy, with the LaMontagne-owned Sultan VII.


The outbreak of World War I interrupted Burch’s training career, as he served in France with the American Field Service as an ambulance driver. At the end of the war, Burch returned to the United States and continued to train for Sanford, as well as George Wingfield’s Nevada Stock Farm and Charles T. Fisher. He eventually added prominent clients Admiral Cary T. Grayson, Samuel Ross, Walter M. Jeffords, Sr., William duPont, Jr., and Marion duPont Scott, among others.


Burch was involved in all facets of the sport, as evidenced by his work with Tambour, whom he bred, owned and trained to win the 1931 Coaching Club American Oaks.


Burch bred a number of successful horses, the most famous of which was the great filly Gallorette, foaled in 1942. The following year he took over as head trainer for the highly successful Brookmeade Stable, owned by Isabel Dodge Sloane. While running Brookmeade, in 1950, Burch led all American trainers in purse earnings. That year, he trained the 2-year-old colt Bold, with whom he won the Preakness Stakes the following year.


Although he trained several outstanding runners, Burch said his best was George Smith, owned by Sanford. Burch took over the conditioning of the 1916 Kentucky Derby winner in 1918 and they teamed up to defeat Derby winners Exterminator and Omar Khayyam in the 1918 Bowie Handicap. George Smith also won the Excelsior, Edgemere and Yorktown handicaps for Burch that year.


Following his retirement as a trainer in 1957, Burch continued in racing as a consultant for Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stable and as a breeder with several mares he owned.


Although records for his training career are incomplete, Burch was a verified winner of 1,236 races. Burch died in 1978 at the age of 93.