William Burling Cocks

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William Burling Cocks

William Burling Cocks was the nation's leading trainer of steeplechase horses five times between 1948 and 1986 and a member of thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame.

Mr. Cocks, known as Burley, was born in Old Westbury, N.Y., the son of United States Representative William Willets Cocks. In 1935, he was the nation's leading steeplechase jockey when one of his mounts fell. He sustained a head injury, ending his riding career, and he became a trainer.

He went on to enjoy a career of 50-plus years as an elite steeplechase trainer. Cocks conditioned 49 stakes winners, including Hall of Famer Zaccio.

Cocks trained the winner of the American Grand National six times, the New York Turf Writers Cup five times, the Colonial Cup three times, and the Temple Gwathmey twice.

Zaccio was Cocks’ most successful jumper. Cocks selected Zaccio as a yearling and prepped him to back-to-back Colonial Cup victories as well as a triumph in the Temple Gwathmey under 163 pounds. Zaccio was named Champion Steeplechase Horse from 1980-1982.

Cocks was the leading steeplechase trainer in America in 1949, 1965, 1973, and 1980. He 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.

W. Burling Cocks was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

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