Hall of Fame Trainer Elliott Burch Dies

Hall of Famer J. Elliott Burch, who trained Belmont Stakes winners Sword Dancer, Quadrangle, and Arts and Letters, died Saturday at Newport Hospital in Rhode Island of complications from pneumonia. He was 86.


Burch, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Preston Burch and grandson of Hall of Fame trainer William Burch, began his 30-year training career on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit in 1955 and went on to saddle more than 60 stakes winners and six champions. In addition to Horses of the Year Sword Dancer (1959), Arts and Letters (1969) and Fort Marcy (co-champion in 1970), Burch also trained top thoroughbreds Quadrangle, who won the Belmont in 1964; Bowl of Flowers, the top 2-year-old and 3-year-old filly of 1960 and 1961, and Key to the Mint, who won the 1972 Travers, Woodward, and Brooklyn Handicap on the way to becoming that year’s 3-Year-Old Champion.


“Elliott Burch was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year that I became a racing fan,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward. “I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Burch as I was friends with all of his children. We all know that he was a brilliant trainer and a great horseman. He was also a devoted father who cared deeply for his family. He was an avid reader and I enjoyed hearing him speak about his favorite books. Elliott Burch will be missed and we should all thank him for the many contributions that he made to thoroughbred racing.”


Born on March 3, 1924, in Washington, D.C., Burch served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II before going to work for The Daily Racing Form as a writer. He then began working for his father at Isabel Dodge Sloane’s Brookmeade Stable, taking over as head trainer in 1957. Two years later, he saddled Brookmeade’s 3-year-old Sword Dancer to win not only the Belmont Stakes but the Travers, Metropolitan Handicap, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup en route to a host of year-end honors.


In 1964, Burch began training for Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stables, for whom he trained Quadrangle, Fort Marcy, Key to the Mint and Arts and Letters as well as Run the Gantlet, 1971’s champion Male Turf Horse, and Summer Guest, winner of the 1972 Coaching Club American Oaks.


Burch, formerly of Garden City, N.Y., was inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1980 and retired in 1985, moving to Rhode Island in 1988.


Predeceased by his wife, Phyllis Hammond Burch, Burch was the father of one daughter, Jehanne Burch, of Middletown, R.I., and three sons: Daniel and his wife Patricia of Manhasset, N.Y., Richard and his wife Margaret of Charlotte, N.C., and the late William E. Burch. He had four grandchildren, Kathryn, Mackenzie, Charlotte and Olivia.


Friends and family are invited to calling hours on Thursday, February 3, from 5 -7 p.m. at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport, R.I. 


A memorial service will be held at the United Congregational Church, 524 Valley Road, Middletown, R.I., on Saturday, February 12 at 11:30 a.m.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Newport Hospital or the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. at www.racingmuseum.org.





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Older Comments about Hall of Fame Trainer Elliott Burch Dies...

From a great family of trainers of which Preston wrote one of the definitive books on training. Saw this fellow come west with ex horse of the year Fort Marcy

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