Burt Bacharach, Horse Owner and Music Legend, Passes at 94

February 9, 2023

Burt Bacharach (Benoit Photo)

Santa Anita Press Release

ARCADIA, Calif.— The entertainment world lost a giant Wednesday with the passing of legendary composer, songwriter, record producer and pianist Burt Bacharach. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Bacharach, who would’ve been 95 on May 12, passed away at his home in Los Angeles.

Bacharach was not only a giant in the music business, but he was also a significant player in Thoroughbred horse racing, dating back to the late 1960s, when his first horse, Battle Royal, won his career debut in 1968 for a trainer named Charlie Whittingham. 

Bacharach soon developed close friendships with a number of prominent racing personalities, including Hollywood Park’s Marjorie Everett and jockeys such as Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, Jr. Married at the time to superstar actress Angie Dickinson, Bacharach and his wife co-hosted an episode of the hit television variety show Hollywood Palace on ABC television, circa January, 1970, and Shoemaker, who was recovering from serious injuries, was their lead guest.

The Shoe sang a version of the George Jones hit song, “The Race is On,” and executed a dance routine as well and answered questions from Burt and Angie, who also ran video of the spill in which Shoemaker was injured.

The award-winning Composer, Record Producer & Songwriter had close ties to the horse racing community and won the Jan. 21 Astra Stakes with wife, Jane, with their Irish-bred Duvet Day.

In addition to a multitude of entertainment awards for songs such as “Alfie,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “The Look of Love,” “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Bacharach also enjoyed major success in racing.

His Maryland-bred Heartlight No. One, who was trained by Pedro Marti and named for the Neil Diamond hit “Heartlight,” won five races in a row in 1983, including the Grade I Hollywood Oaks, the Grade II Del Mar Oaks and the Grade I Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park and was subsequently voted 1983’s Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old filly.

“To tell you the truth, I rode the first horse Burt ever owned, a horse named Battle Royal for Charlie Whittingham,” said Pincay. “And then later on, we won a lot of good races with Heartlight No. One. Burt was just a good friend. I will always be grateful to him, because after my first wife passed away, he took me under his wing.

“My kids were very young, and he would invite us out to dinner almost every weekend. I will always be very appreciative of that. That’s something that I will never forget. He was really a good friend and I tell you, it hurt me to hear that he passed away.”

Other stakes horses campaigned by Bacharach included the Richard Mandella-trained Soul of the Matter and Afternoon Deelites, who won Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe in successive years in 1994 and 1995. Soul of the Matter would go on to run fifth in the 1994 Kentucky Derby and two years later at age five, he ran second to the great Cigar in the 1996 Dubai World Cup and retired as the all-time leading West Virginia-bred money earner with more than $1.5 million. 

Following his 1995 San Felipe victory, Afternoon Deelites, in one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the Santa Anita Derby, finished second by a nose to Larry Legend and would go on to run eighth in the Run for the Roses. 

“We had great times racing, with Soul of the Matter and Afternoon Deelites,” said Mandella from his Santa Anita Barn 4 on Thursday morning. “We became great friends, and we continued that way. He was a great person, a great owner, he couldn’t have been better. We had great times, and I couldn’t say enough about him.

“One day I’ll never forget, he actually had my parents and my wife, and I picked up at the airport in Vegas, and we were taken to Caesars Palace where we had front row seats for one of his concerts. It was the one night he came back with Dionne Warwick (“Walk on By,” “Alfie,” etc.)

I remember Sugar Ray Leonard was in the booth next to us and Burt stopped the concert and introduced me and then Sugar Ray Leonard. I’ll never forget it.”

Honored by the Turf Publicists of America in 1971 with its “Big Sport of Turfdom” award, Bacharach was also chosen as the 1995 Maryland Breeder of the Year. 

Bacharach’s final win came with the Irish-bred Duvet Day, who flew late going a mile and one half on turf to win Santa Anita’s $100,000 Astra Stakes on Jan. 21. Owned in-part by Bacharach and his wife, Jane, Duvet Day, who paid $28.80 to win, was trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Kazushi Kimura.

Burt Bacharach is survived by his wife, Jane and four children, sons Oliver and Christopher Elton as well as two daughters, Lea Nikki and Raleigh.

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