06/16/2014 12:54PM

Taylor, Bradley elected to Racing Hall of Fame


E.P. Taylor and Col. E.R. Bradley have been elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in the category of Pillars of the Turf. That category, which was introduced last year and is decided by committee, honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to racing.

August Belmont II and Paul Mellon were inductees as Pillars of the Turf in 2013. Taylor and Bradley will be inducted Aug. 8 along with jockeys Lloyd Hughes and Alex Solis, trainer Gary Jones, and racehorses Ashado, Clifford, and Curlin.

Bradley was born in 1859 in the flood town of Johnstown, Pa., and earned his fortune through wit, daring, and the sweat of his brow. Upon his death 86 years later, he was wealthy beyond measure, a beloved philanthropist, and the most successful owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds of his time.

Bradley came up through the working class, through the steel mills and western gold mines, before making his fortune in real estate speculation, and later, as an owner of high-profile gaming establishments. Along life’s path, he would befriend Wyatt Earp, cross verbal swords with legendary Louisiana politico Huey Long, and grace the cover of Time magazine. He himself was larger than life ... in every aspect of life.

When health issues arose in 1898, a doctor encouraged Bradley to take up horse racing as an avocation, which he did. Eight years later, he purchased some land in Central Kentucky, the nucleus of his eventual 1,500-acre Idle Hour Stock Farm, where he would later install such stallions as Black Toney and North Star III and the queen of mares, La Troienne, quite possibly the most important distaff importation of all time. And it was there that Bradley would eventually breed 128 stakes winners, 15 American champions, four future Racing Hall of Famers, and, most notably, four Kentucky Derby winners.

He named virtually all of his horses starting with the letter “B,” and through the 1930s and into the ‘40s, no silks were more famous than Idle Hour’s green and white. They were carried by the likes of Blue Larkspur, Black Helen, Bimelech, Busher – Hall of Famers, one and all – and yes, that famed quartet of Derby winners: Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), and Broker’s Tip (1933).

Beyond his exploits as an owner-breeder, Bradley developed Fair Grounds in New Orleans into a wonderland of winter racing during the 1920s and was prominently involved with Hialeah when that track was on its early upward trajectory. Never having had children of his own, he for a time conducted annual one-day race meets at Idle Hour to benefit Kentucky orphans, raising thousands for that cause.

When Huey Long grilled him before a 1934 Senate committee as to his employment, Bradley retorted: “I am a speculator, raiser of racehorses, and a gambler.” In the end, one occupation took precedence in his heart above all others.

Bradley thrilled to the challenge, as he put it, in “choosing a sire and dam, watching the colt develop, then seeing your faith in those bloodlines justified.” He loved the Sport of Kings, from top to bottom, inside and out.

“I’ll be racing on my last day,” he often said.

And so he was, if only in his heart.

Bradley died at Idle Hour Stock Farm on Aug. 15, 1946.

Unlike Bradley, Canadian Edward Plunket Taylor was born with the proverbial silver spoon, into a brewing family of great wealth. Under his stewardship, he would carry that wealth forward into new dimensions until it was often joked that this assertive industrialist owned half of Canada itself.

He was friends with John F. Kennedy and the Queen Mother and eventually developed the Bahamas’ Lyford Cay into a billionaires’ playground. But nothing gave him more personal satisfaction when all was said and done than his life in the world of horse racing. In that sphere, Taylor would build one of the world’s most successful breeding establishments and, along the way, establish a racing empire the world over would admire and respect.

Taylor stepped into racing in the 1930s as co-owner of Cosgrave Stable. It wasn’t until 1953, however, that his involvement really took off, with the auction acquisition of the broodmare Lady Angela, carrying the Nearco colt, Nearctic.

In the early 1950s, he also acquired vast property near Oshawa that he eventually named Windfields Farm, and turned to breeding Thoroughbreds in earnest – doing so more successfully than anyone who had come before him. His influence would become broad, profound, and international. He eventually led all North American breeders by earnings nine times and won a pair of Eclipse and Sovereign awards. Prior to his 1989 death, Taylor’s Windfields program had generated upward of 300 worldwide stakes winners, including 54 champions, 18 Canadian Hall of Famers, 15 Queen’s Plate winners, three English Derby winners, two Irish Derby winners ... and one towering legend – Northern Dancer – the 1964 Kentucky Derby winner and unparalleled progenitor with whom Taylor’s name has become inextricably intertwined.

Taylor’s influence on global Thoroughbred breeding was profound, but so, too, was his impact on the Sport of Kings north of the U.S. border. He was the driving force behind the 1950s transformation of Eastern Canadian racing from bush-league to big-league, setting up Woodbine Race Course as its brightest jewel. He helped organize the Ontario Jockey Club, then served for 20 years as its president (1953-73). He later served as president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association. He created empire.

“People don’t understand that my principal motivation is not money,” he once remarked. “I do things that are constructive. There are people who like to paint or garden. I like to create things.”

And did he ever.