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W. Burling Cocks

W. Burling Cocks
Induction Year: 
1985
Born: 
March 20, 1915, Old Westbury, N.Y.
Died: 
Feb. 8, 1998, Unionville, Pa.
Career Years: 
1941-1993

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Bio

A son of two-term United States Congressman William Willets Cocks and a successful steeplechase rider until an injury forced him from the saddle, Burley Cocks became one of the most accomplished steeplechase trainers in American history.

 

Cocks was a talented rider in the early 1930s and enrolled in  the University of Virginia, but he lasted only a year in college because “they didn’t have any steeplechase courses there,” he once said. In 1935, he suffered a near-fatal riding injury when he was thrown from a horse and spent 19 days in a coma.

 

In 1941, Cocks received his training license. He led all steeplechase trainers in wins in 1948, 1965, 1973, 1980, and 1986. He trained 49 stakes winners, including Hall of Fame member Zaccio, the Eclipse Award winner in 1980, 1981, and 1982. Zaccio won consecutive runnings of the Colonial Cup, as well as two runnings of the New York Turf Writers Cup, including a course-record time of 4:14⅕ for 2⅜ miles at Saratoga. Zaccio’s other seven stakes wins included the American Grand National and Temple Gwathmey.

 

Cocks won the Grand National six times, the New York Turf Writers Cup five times, Carolina Cup four times, Colonial Cup three times, and the Temple Gwathmey twice. Cocks was presented the F. Ambrose Clark award in 1973 and helped foster the careers of Hall of Famers D. M. Smithwick, A. P. Smithwick and Jonathan Sheppard, as well as Billy Turner, Willard C. Freeman, Doug Small, and Charlie Cushman. At the time of his retirement in 1993, Cocks ranked third all time among steeplechase trainers with more than $2.5 million in earnings.

 

 

Trainer