08/06/2014 8:24AM

Taylor goes into Hall of Fame synonymous with racing greatness


His name is synonymous with the muscular little stallion who molded the modern racehorse into his own image and rewrote the record books for 20th century Thoroughbred auctions. … He completely reorganized Canadian racing and built Woodbine into a model racetrack admired the world over. … And through the years, his breeding empire turned out more worldwide stakes winners than any other 20th century operation. Prior to his 1989 death, Edward Plunket Taylor left his imprint on the sport of kings in no uncertain terms – permanently, indelibly, and globally.

This mover and shaker par excellence was born with the proverbial silver spoon into a wealthy Canadian brewing family. When his own turn at the helm came around, the rising industrialist grabbed onto it with gusto and parlayed an already-substantial fortune into a much larger one that would come to include development of the billionaire’s playground Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. He was suave and debonair, at times photographed in top hat and tails, moving smoothly in high circles, befriending the likes of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy and England’s Queen Mother.

Like fellow 2014 Pillar of the Turf inductee, E.R. Bradley, of Taylor’s varied exploits, horse racing was hard to top in his book of interests. He began his racing venture as a relatively small stable owner during the 1930s but jumped in big time by 1953 with the auction purchase of Lady Angela, then carrying the future 1958 Canadian Horse of the Year Nearctic.

About that time, Taylor began acquiring the historic property that would become Windfields Farm, near Oshawa, in the eastern province of Ontario. He was destined for nothing less than legendary status in this endeavor, in which he would snag Eclipse and Sovereign awards, top all North American breeders nine times by money won (19 times by races won), and send out 300-plus stakes winners, 54 champions, 18 Canadian Hall of Famers, 15 Queen’s Plate victors, three English Derby winners, two Irish Derby winners, and one bona fide legend in a Kentucky Derby-winning, game-changing sire named Northern Dancer. … Nijinsky II, Storm Bird, The Minstrel, Secreto, El Gran Senor, Glorious Song, and Devil’s Bag were just a few of the many greats to emerge in a span of barely 30 years from Taylor’s phenomenal Windfields program – arguably the most successful breeding operation of all time, anywhere.

While establishing his farm, Taylor also was busy resuscitating a nation’s declining, small-time sport. As a driving organizer behind the Ontario Jockey Club, for which he served as president for 20 years, he hauled Canadian racing proudly into the modern era while establishing Woodbine Race Course as its crown jewel.

Taylor did things large and did things well. He claimed that he liked to “create,” and indeed, that is what he did in creating an empire of massive proportions, both on the racetrack and breeding farm. He was an unforgettable man, a profound and lasting influence … a most deserving inductee into the Racing Hall of Fame.