As legacies go, few people will have one as prodigious as Joe Taylor, the master horseman and farm manager who died in a Dec. 19 automobile accident when an oncoming pickup truck hit an icy patch and spun out of control and into Taylor's vehicle.
He has four sons, Duncan, Ben, Frank, and Mark, who own and operate Taylor Made Farm, one of the Thoroughbred industry's largest operations. One of his two daughters, Emily, has worked with Taylor Made's unique internship program, which has attracted young men and women from around the world to the Nicholasville, Ky., farm.
It's a sure bet that some of Taylor's grandchildren and future great-grandchildren will follow in those same footsteps. It's in their blood.
But Joe Taylor created a legacy that went far beyond family. During the 40 years he worked for Clarence Gaines and son John Gaines at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Taylor shared his knowledge with hundreds of aspiring horsemen, many of whom went on to management positions at Gainesway or other farms, thanks to the lessons they learned from him. He did the same while consulting with his sons at Taylor Made, spending more time there after his retirement from Gainesway in 1990.
In the introduction for Joe Taylor's Complete Guide to Breeding and Raising Race Horses
, John Gaines said this of Taylor: "Joe is not only a complete horseman but he is also an agronomist, builder, geneticist, caretaker, nutritionist, salesman, entrepreneur, executive, promoter, accountant, arborist, midwife, dealmaker, diplomat and handyman. Joe is truly a man for all seasons but everyone who knows him understands that his real business is helping people and that is why he wrote this."
He touched thousands of other lives in Central Kentucky, not just through his volunteer work with the Conquest Boys Club and the Catholic Church, but by reaching out to the community, delivering food to needy individuals, and helping in many other ways. He passed on that sense of responsibility to his children, too.
Taylor may not have his name etched in granite on the side of a building somewhere, but his reputation will live on as a mentor to the current generation of farm managers who will pass much of what they learned from him on to future horsemen. His legacy as an outstanding horseman also will be passed on from generation to generation of Taylors. He touched thousands of lives during his many years of service to his community, and he will be remembered by those who benefited from his kindness. ANOTHER RACING LOSS
Overshadowed by the death of Joe Taylor was the Dec. 14 passing of Jeanne Vance, who with husband Milton J. "Laddie" Dance Jr. raced champion Lemon Drop Kid.
Vance loved the horse industry and probably deserved better luck with many of the horses she acquired over the years. But she hit the home run with Lemon Drop Kid, a son of Kingmambo who took the 1999 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) and the following year won the Whitney Handicap (gr. I), Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Suburban Handicap (gr. II), and Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) en route to an Eclipse Award as champion older male. The $200,000 yearling purchase retired to Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky. It's sad that neither Jeanne nor her husband, who died just over one year ago, will be around to see Lemon Drop Kid's first crop when they reach the races in 2004.
Vance contributed time and money to numerous causes in her community, but she also gave something to racing: a fun-loving attitude and graciousness whether in victory or defeat. She was a fixture at the Saratoga select yearling sale, where Laddie presided over the auction stand for so many years. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her.