07/02/2004 12:00AM

Taylor kids try out family business


LEXINGTON, Ky. - At Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's summer yearling sale on July 19-20, there will be some new kids on the block selling horses. Buyers who stop at Barn 3F to examine JLT Bloodstock's four yearlings might be surprised to find that the consignors are exactly that: kids.

The proprietors of JLT Bloodstock, which debuts at the auction, range in age from 5 to 18. They have a long family connection to the sales ring. Their grandfather was Joseph Lannon Taylor, the JLT of the consignment's name, and their fathers are the brothers who operate Taylor Made Farm and its sales agency.

"They're doing all the work, and they picked the horses out," said Frank Taylor, whose children Katie, Joe, Chris, Frankie, and Gracie are among the investors and workers at JLT Bloodstock. The others involved are Ben Taylor's children Brooks, Courtney, and Clay; Duncan Taylor's Marshall, Morgan, Danny, Madeline, and Caroline; and Mark Taylor's sons Walker and Josh. Three other teenagers - Jak Knelman, John David Christman, and Andrew Whalen - also have invested money or sweat equity, or both, in the partnership.

"Of course, some of the kids are more active than others," said Frank's wife, Kim. "But even the youngest ones can muck a stall."

Frank Taylor said the younger consignors came up with the idea to pinhook weanlings to the yearling sales.

"We put up some of the money and they got some investors, but most of it is their money and their parents'," Taylor said. "Initially, they were thinking of selling with Taylor Made, but then they said, 'Why don't we do it all ourselves?'

"I thought that was a great idea. They can't blame me if the horses don't sell well!"

Every weekend in January and February, Taylor took the JLT team to farms in Kentucky, and once to Florida, scouting weanlings. Their budget was $50,000 or less, Taylor said, and they ended up with four horses: a Songandaprayer-Cash No Credit colt, a More Than Ready-No Mud on Me colt, a Wild Rush-Ayers Rock colt, and a Gilded Time-Dayflower filly.

"We probably looked at hundreds, and we were looking for what fit Daddy Joe's criteria," said Katie Taylor, 18, referring to her grandfather, who died last December. "We wanted good conformation and very athletic horses, long and stretchy but refined. We went for young sires that were starting to prove themselves."

Before buying, the team considered the weanlings' pedigree potential and their sires' sales averages.

Even the youngest, 5-year-old Chris and 6-year-old Gracie, have contributed. "They help at the barn and are learning to show the horses," Katie said, adding that Danny, an eighth-grader, will be the consignment's lead showman.

The JLT clan turned their horses out on Frank Taylor's property, which has an eight-stall barn in the back yard. They fit work on their own horses in between school and part-time jobs at Taylor Made, keeping many of the kids on a 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule.

Most sellers get their horses fit for sale by hand-walking them or putting them on automatic walkers, but the Taylor kids used another device: the golf cart.

"A golf cart won't try to kick and bite them, and it's human-controlled, so there's room for error," said Katie. One Taylor drove the cart along slowly, while another one, facing backwards on the back of the cart, led the yearling on a 20-foot line.

The kids split up into teams to tackle the various issues, from arranging veterinary exams to running the consignment shed row.

"They're doing it all themselves," Frank Taylor said. "There are no paid employees. They'll have to make a profit to get paid for their work."

"We've really learned the value of a dollar," Katie said. "If we want something done, we have to do it ourselves, and we have to focus on what's important. But with only four horses, we feel like we're really in tune with them."

"A lot more work goes into it than I thought," said Brooks, 18, who will work as a groom at the sale. "It's not just about going and grooming your horse. There's advertising and marketing, communicating with people. Our parents have played a strong role, because whenever we had questions or problems, we can go to them. They know what they're talking about."

"I think Daddy Joe would be happy," Katie said. "He was so psyched up about this before he died, because it was about us working together as a family and learning the business. He wanted the third generation of Taylors to be like the second generation, and we are."

Smarty boom seen in name applications

Following on Smarty Jones's popularity, since May 14 The Jockey Club has approved applications for eight names that hark back to the Derby and Preakness winner: Smarty Me, Sleepy Jones, Smarty Who, Smarty Dee, Party Jones, Like Smarty, Smarty Joe, and Smarty Brown.

"I take it as a compliment, and I'm honored that people are doing this," said Pat Chapman, who owns Smarty Jones with her husband, Roy. Chapman added that she hopes "they leave some good names for me" to use when Smarty's progeny are born.

* The Kern Lillingston bloodstock agency of the United States, England, and Ireland has hired Joseph Miller as a bloodstock assistant in its U.S. office. Miller previously worked for Churchill Downs Simulcast Network.