Burley Parke was born in Albion, Idaho, on March 21, 1905. He was one of 12 children, and four of his seven brothers also went into the racing industry.
Parke started out as a jockey in Reno, Nev., and then went on to success at the Santa Anita and Tijuana tracks. He was the second-leading rider in the country in 1921, but after a couple of seasons he became too big for a jockey and moved on to become an assistant trainer.
Parke’s brothers, Ivan (also a Hall of Fame member), Chuck and Monte came along behind him and became successful in their own right. Ivan was the nation’s leading jockey in 1923 and 1924. He won the first race ever run at Hialeah Park in Florida. Monte was the nation’s second-leading rider in 1933.
Leaving riding was the right choice for Parke. During the 1940s, he won nine Futurities at Belmont, Arlington, Washington, and Keeneland.
Charles Howard, who owned Seabiscuit, hired Parke to run his racing stable in the late 1940s. It was then that Howard bought future Hall of Fame horse Noor from the Aga Khan and brought him to America. Parke saw a horse with great promise but one that was stubborn and had a nasty temper. Having raced in Europe, the American tracks and style of racing were unfamiliar to Noor. Parke used his skill and patience to slowly convince Noor to use his speed to become a great racehorse.
The highlight of Parke’s career was training Noor to beat Citation in four consecutive stakes, including two in world-record time. Parke then left the sport for almost 10 years to attend to his fruit ranch in California before being lured back by Lou Wolfson.
For Wolfson, Parke prepped the speedy Raise a Native and 1965 co-Horse of the Year Roman Brother. Parke ranked among America’s top five trainers on seven occasions before his death in 1977.
Burley Parke was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1986.
Parke and Noor arrive at Saratoga for the 1950 summer season