Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph: June 27th, 1957

flowerbowl“I did something perhaps unheard of, you might even say crazy, in preparing Flower Bowl for the race.” – trainer Preston Burch before the 1956 running of the Delaware Handicap.

“I had the horse at Belmont Park, and she was about to get her final serious workout there before shipping 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 the instructions wrong, but whatever the reason he worked her 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 a quarter Delaware. We were going to van her down to Delaware that afternoon, but I still wanted to get in that speed workout without delaying the trip, so I did something any other 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 race of all filly and mare races, coming up from 13th in a field of 15 to win by two lengths.”


Even this Hall of Fame conditioner was doubted by the press – as the above anecdote was preceded by this comment: “He (Burch) trained Flower Bowl in such a way as to set orthodox methods back 50 years.”

The immortal Mr. Burch has been featured in this blog for his handling of 1951 Preakness Winner Bold, and provided detailed conditioning plans within his book – which I reviewed:

And just what type of ‘horsemanship’ was the focus of this year’s Delaware Handicap won by Royal Delta? She did it without Lasix.


(big thanks to blog reader Jared for this gem)


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on December 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Bill,

    Long time reader but first time poster. Firstly I have read every post on the blog and have learnt so much from you. As a long time horse punter in the Uk your blog has really ignited an interest in different training techniques, use of race day medication and genetics within breeding. I thank you for that.

    Will you be preparing a blog post in reaction to the recent research commissioned by the Breeders Cup into 2yo bleeding following the 2013 Breeders Cup meet? I for one would value your interpretation of the findings.

    Kind regards,

    • Thanks for the kind words Liam.

      I have seen that Lasix ‘study’. I am going to try a post on it soon. What jumps out at me is the vet quoted went into this project EXPECTING to see the ‘benefits’ of Lasix, which seems to be to be pretty closed-minded. I am torn. US racing on dirt with first quarter miles in 21sec is much different than Euro style racing on turf/synthetic with opening quarters in 26sec. Your horses come home strong and fast, while ours are laboring. It’s almost a different sport entirely, on a physiological basis. I am sure the lungs experience vastly different forces in those two examples. However I trust no scientist; whomever commissions a study will only be doing so to bolster their perspective.

      That being said, I do not want bleeders propped up with drugs winning our graded stake races on their way to the breeding shed either.

  2. Offline comment from quarter horse client:

    “Hey Bill just finished reading your dec 18 post, great article that gives me peace of mind that I’m not overworking my babies!-“

  3. I’m pretty sure no trainer where I live would even DARE truly challenging a horse in this manner. All we have here are slow, fragile horses as a result.

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