Right now, Bill Turner is the only living trainer of a Triple Crown winner. His horse, the great Seattle Slew, was undefeated in nine races, a streak that ended with his Belmont Stakes win in 1977. Bill might lose that distinction June 7, if Big Brown takes the Belmont, but for now the reporters are still dropping by his barn in the mornings, asking whether he thinks Big Brown will win, or just collecting memories of that past Triple Crown campaign.
Bill Turner is also my trainer. For the past six years, he has trained for my Castle Village Farm stable
, wonderful horses all, but not exactly at Seattle Slew's level. Regardless, Bill shows up at Barn 44 at Belmont every morning to tend to his string of 20 horses. And he gives every horse -- even if it isn't quite as talented as his champion of 30-odd years ago -- the same care and attention he once lavished on Slew.
Bill's whole life has been about horses. Born in 1940, he grew up in the fox hunting country of southeast Pennsylvania. After a detour through veterinary school at Emory University in Atlanta, he briefly tried a career as a steeplechase jockey, then worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame jump trainer Burley Cocks before going out on his own in 1966. His first winner, Salerno, was also his first stakes winner, taking the Remsen in 1967.