Saturday, November 14, 2015

Preston Burch Did WHAT with Flower Bowl?!?!

Hall Of Fame trainer Preston Burch was known for doing things a little bit unconventionally, and this excerpt from an Associated Press article dated June 27, 1957 (excerpt from Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph) gives a prime example. He was preparing Flower Bowl's full sister Floral Park for that year's Delaware Handicap when he recounted his efforts for the Delaware Handicap the prior year with Flower Bowl. He did something with famed mare Flower Bowl that most trainers would deem to be impossible, let alone crazy in preparing her for her run in the Delaware Handicap:

Original article text can be found here.

"I did something perhaps unheard of, you might even say crazy, in preparing Flower Bowl for the race,"... "I had the horse at Belmont Park, and she was to get her final serious workout there before being shipped to Delaware. I planned to work her a mile on the training track to keep her sharpened for speed, and told the exercise boy to do the mile in about 1:40."

"Maybe he got his instructions wrong, but whatever the reason he worked Flower Bowl in a slow 1:43."

"After that slow trial which didn't serve my purpose as a speed sharpener I was dubious about the filly's chances, figuring she wouldn't be thoroughly tightened up for the mile and one quarter Delaware."

And now for the "crazy."

"We were going to van her down the Delaware track, but I still wanted to get in that speed workout without delaying the trip.  So I did something any horse trainer would call crazy. Thirty minutes after that 1:43 mile on the training track, I sent her through five furlongs on the main track in one minute flat."

"Well, you know what happened, Flower Bowl went to Delaware Park and won the richest of all filly and mare races, coming up from 13th in a field of 15 to win by two lengths."

Do we have any true horsemen like Preston Burch left in today's generation of trainers?

I always hear that horses aren't made like they used to be.

The horses are still made like they always were and can still handle this type of interval training. They're just not trained like they used to be. This article was penned before the advent of furosemide in horse racing, started by Dr. Alex Harthill with Northern Dancer's run in the Kentucky Derby. Harthill admitted to this before his death, and the vets have been "training" our racehorses ever since.

My question to the trainers: are you willing to go the extra mile to make your horses all that they can be?  Preston Burch was and he is in the Thoroughbred Racing Hall Of Fame because of his willingness to do what others were not willing to try. Sometimes he set orthodox training methods back 50 years, but his success as a conditioner can't be disputed.

Flower Bowl is the dam of super-sires His Majesty and Graustark, and second dam of influential sire Whiskey Road. Floral Park is the tail-female ancestress of the likes of Groupie Doll, Ivanavinalot, and undefeated champion juvenile filly, Songbird.

Imagine the possibilities for linebreeding and crossing two very accomplished runners and progenitors in Flower Bowl and Floral Park! Groupie Doll exemplifies what happens when the two are crossed.

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