Born in 1961, Toronto native and two-time Trainer of the Year in Canada (1987 and 2007) Blair Burgess has sent out more than 1,000 winners with earnings exceeding $27 million.
Burgess twice won the Hambletonian, first with Amigo Hall 3,1:54s ($928,183) in 2003 and then returning to the winner’s circle with Glidemaster 3,1:51.1 ($1,968,023) in 2006. During Glidemaster’s sophomore campaign, he put together a 8-7-0 record in 15 starts, earning a then-record $1.91 million for an ownership group that included Brittany Farms, Marsha Cohen, Burgess’ wife Karin Olsson-Burgess and his father Robert, himself a Canadian Hall of Famer. The son of Yankee Glide would claim the 2006 Trotting Triple Crown with victories in the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot (in a record 1:55.4), earning him Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year honors.
Prior to Glidemaster’s 2006 campaign, Burgess gained notoriety as the trainer of Hall of Famer Real Desire p,4,1:48.2 ($3,159,814). The Life Sign colt won the Breeders Crown as a freshman and captured the Meadowlands Pace at three. However, it was the pacer’s 4-year-old campaign that garnered the industry’s top honor.
Burgess sent out Real Desire to 10 wins in 13 starts during the 2002 season. Key wins included a second Breeders Crown title, this time in the $500,000 final for open pacers, the $532,665 Canadian Pacing Derby and $400,000 U.S. Pacing Championship. Real Desire finished the year with earnings of $1.06 million for Brittany Farms, Perretti Farms, Robert Burgess and Karin Olsson-Burgess. He was named Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year in the United States and top Older Pacer and Horse of the Year in Canada. Real Desire went on to a successful stallion career, siring winners in excess of $68 million with 203 $100,000 winners to date. Real Desire was inducted into the Living Horse Hall of Fame in 2016.
With a Horse of the Year on each gait, Burgess joined a select list of trainers who have achieved that milestone, including Stanley Dancer, Billy Haughton, Clint Hodgins and Jimmy Takter.
Burgess achieved success in two of the signature races on either side of the border in 2007 with pacer Tell All p,3,1:48.3 ($1,509,227). The son of Real Desire made 22 starts during his 3-year-old campaign, sporting a record of 12-2-4. The colt stormed to a 1:50.3 win in the North America Cup and delivered the Little Brown Jug victory that had eluded Burgess in previous attempts. After finishing second with Amity Chef p,3,1:51.1 ($1,372,683) in 1986 and Real Desire in 2001, Tell All scored in straight heats, going gate-to-wire for Jody Jamieson en route to a 1:52 performance. Tell All finished the season with $1.5 million in earnings for My Desire Stable before being named divisional champion and Pacer of the Year in the U.S. and sharing Canadian Horse of the Year honors with freshman pacer Somebeachsomewhere.
Other millionaires conditioned by Burgess included Western Ideal p,5,1:48 ($1,455,422) and Quality Western p,8,1:49.2f ($1,292,528). His stable has produced seven O’Brien winners and nine Dan Patch Award winners.
Blair Burgess was elected into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2017.