updated 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Bill Burch, 25, is a fourth-generation thoroughbred trainer who narrowly missed making track history last July. His first big stakes horse, State Dinner (owned by millionaire C. V. Whitney), lost the last leg of New York's Handicap Triple Crown by coming in third at the Brooklyn Handicap. Still, Dinner earned a total of $285,000 and 10 percent of it went to Bill. "Most trainers spend their whole lives waiting for a horse like this," he says, slipping the 4-year-old bay a lump of sugar. Burch is no stranger to superb horseflesh. His grandfather Preston was the author of Training Thoroughbred Horses, and his father, Elliott, guided Arts and Letters to the winner's circle at the Belmont Stakes in 1969. Bill began working with racehorses four years ago after leaving the premed program at Lehigh University because, he explains, "There were too many people with calculators and slide rules on their belts." As supervisor of 20 horses at the stable on Long Island, Bill arrives every morning at 6 from his home nearby. He spends his afternoons at the betting windows. But unlike his older brother Dan, a professional handicapper turned Wall Street accountant, Bill is a modest gambler. He follows his own advice: "Don't bet your lunch money and bet only on your own horses."