Quaint Turf Character: "Burton the Bookmaker" an Eccentric Celebrity on Eastern Tracks Decade or So Ago, Daily Racing Form, 1922-08-17


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QUAINT TURF CHARACTER "Burton the Bookmaker" an Eccentric Celebrity on Eastern Tracks Decade or So Ago. Saratoga, as everyone knows who is at nil interested in the thoroughbred horse and the great sport of racing, is the turf mecca of America during the month of August. Found there among the great gatherings that come from all parts of the country are many veteran sportsmen, who often get together of an evening and discuss the good old days of the turf. While reminiscencing the characteristics and doings of some of the old-timers who have passed away are recalled. Recently at such a gathering among others mentioned was "Burton the Bookmaker," who once was a celebrity about eastern tracks. Always wise was Burton, but. nevertheless, he was one of the most eccentric turf followers who ever had to do with the horses in any way. Burton never gave up his residence in Tenes-see, although he spent most of his time in the North. Once when asked why he did not make New York his home he replied : "Because Im the blanked smartest man in Tennessee. If I could be the smartest man in Xew York Id live here." Many tales have been told on Burton and an old turfman recalled the following one: "It was at a race meeting many years ago," said he. "Some of the bookmakers thought they would put one over on the old Tennesseean, who had fought with Forrest for the Confederacy. Burton always was a bit slow about putting up his prices in the days of the slates, always waiting to see what the others were doing. One day the leaders of the ring picked a spot and all agreed to mark up to 6 to 1 on a logical 2 to 1 shot, and then bet Burton when he followed their lead. The late Davy Johnson stood alongside Burtons book, and when the old man followed the other figures and made the favorite G to 1, Davy immediately offered him a thousand-dollar wager. " Bet it in your own book, you blankeiy-blank blank! was the quick retort of Burton, who immediately rubbed and put up the price at which the horse originally should have been quoted. "Because he never could win a bet from David Gideon, who is still racing his own horses, Burton was superstitious of this particular turfman. This superstitution led to a remark that caused Gideon to name the horse Stonington, remembered by many of todays turf followers. It happened - on a 1 night when Burton was pursuing his favorite pastime of bucking the tiger. He had been plaving faro, and was stuck for ,510,000, while Stony Melville, who had accompanied him, was also several hundred loser. Gideon always has been an early riser during the ti-aining season, having a liking for getting out on the track with the railbirds in the early hours. The night Butron and Melville were playing Gideon had arisen at five oclock and, passing the house where the play was going on, he was attracted by the light and stepped in to see what was doing. He stood behind Burton for a deal or two and watched the play. Suddenly Burton sensed the fact that someone was behind his chair and turned to see the man of whom he had a superstition. Then he collapsed. I " Its all off, Stonington, growled the old man. I knew there was some hoodoo about. Lets get away from here before we lose our hides. I "Gideon, amused at the old timer, never forgot the way he handed Stony the full moniker of Stonington, and that was how he came to call one of his colts by that name." I .

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1922081701/drf1922081701_11_3
Local Identifier: drf1922081701_11_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800