Elizabeth Taylor at Hollywood Park with trainer Laz Barrera and Jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Elizabeth Taylor at Hollywood Park with trainer Laz Barrera and Jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Hollywood Park Photo

Actress Taylor Had Ties to Horse Racing

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died March 23, had a lifelong interest in horses.

Iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor, who had a lifelong interest in horses and starred in the film "National Velvet," died March 23 at age 79.

In "National Velvet," Taylor plays a young girl named Velvet Brown, who trains a horse for the Grand National Steeplechase, ends up disguising herself as a male jockey, and rides the horse to victory. Many of the scenes from that movie were filmed at Santa Anita Park in Southern California.

Later in life, Taylor attended several Thoroughbred races in Europe and the United States. She was pictured with her third husband, Mike Todd, and their friends Eddie Fisher (who she would later marry) and wife Debbie Reynolds at Epsom Downs on Derby Day in 1957.

Taylor also attended the 1968 Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris with fifth husband Richard Burton, Maria Callas, and Peter O’Toole.

Another one of Taylor’s husbands, John Warner, a Virginia politician to whom she was married from 1976 to 1982, was a horse owner and breeder. The couple lived on his Atoka Farm near Loudoun County, Va., and was photographed at the Washington D.C. International Stakes at Laurel Park.

In 1986, Taylor was pictured with one of her close friends, the late pop star Michael Jackson, during opening day festivities at Hollywood Park. That same year, Taylor and actor George Hamilton came to Lexington with Hollywood Park’s chief operating officer, Marj Everett, and they were guests of officers of Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup.

During her trip, Taylor presented Keeneland's inaugural Beaumont Stakes trophy to trainer Joe Bollero, who saddled Classy Cathy to victory.

That was not the first time Taylor had been to Lexington, however. She originally visited Central Kentucky three decades prior, during the filming of “Raintree County” in 1956.

A further tie with Taylor and horse racing comes through prominent stakes winner and sire Nashua. The Hall of Famer died in 1982 and is buried at the Lexington-area Spendthrift Farm. In the mid-1980s, the farm commissioned a statue to be raised over him, and the sculptress was Lisa Todd, the daughter of Taylor and her aforementioned third husband Todd.