The official news release covering the Breeders’ Cup Marathon on Friday, November 2, 2012 from Santa Anita read:
“Calidoscopio was slow from the gate but more than made up for his laggardly start with a determined late run in the stretch to win by 4 ¼ lengths over post-time favourite Atigun”.
But my story filed that day for the Vancouver Sun from Arcadia, California took a very different slant:
“At the end of the day it did not matter that Commander finished ninth by 37 lengths in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon. All that mattered to owner Glen Todd was that he was able to enjoy the moment in a winner’s circle of his own creation with the four people he loved most: daughters Shelley and Dana; jockey Mario Gutierrez and trainer Troy Taylor.”
Todd would later reveal that he managed to keep it under wraps that Taylor, 81, almost didn’t make it to Santa Anita after spending the previous week at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle being constantly monitored by world-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Mark Dedomenico.
Todd struggled with his emotions when he described what that weekend in 2012 meant to him. “First of all, it’s the Breeders’ Cup at one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world and we’ve got a horse entered,” he said. “I never thought it would happen. Then, to be with Mario and Troy at Santa Anita, it was something I just had to share with my daughters. I told them we were going to make it a family trip and take in all of the proceedings and festivities and enjoy every moment.”
Shelley and Dana lost their mom Sandra in 2006 when she succumbed to an aneurysm. Her passing happened just months before learning their dad had inflammation of the pancreas resulting in kidney failure. Todd later would admit: “I thought I was a goner.”
Glen was once again wrestling with his emotions this past weekend when he announced the passing of his dear friend Troy Taylor at the age of 88. He acknowledged my condolences with this heartfelt message: “I will miss him. He called me nearly every day after the races at Hastings to give me hell about one horse or another. The call I will never forget is when we won the BC Oaks, BC Derby and Randall Plate all in a row on Derby Day this past summer. His words to me were: ‘I’m so proud of you’. Those words will be with me for life. It meant so much to me to hear those words from my mentor.”
They first met in 1963 while Todd was covering thoroughbred racing for the Columbian newspaper in New Westminster. At that time Taylor was training horses at Hastings after having been the leading trainer at Portland Meadows. Todd eventually became a prominent owner at Hastings and with Taylor at his side, the two worked their magic together for over four decades.
Taylor was inducted into the BC Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2010. He was the leading trainer at Hastings eight times and holds the single-season track record of winning 18 graded stakes races in 2012.
According to Equibase, since 1964 Taylor won 961 races from 5,285 starts including Todd’s stakes winners Commander, Holy Nova, Sir Gallovic and namesakes Taylors Deal and Taylor Said. They won their first – and only – BC Derby in 2016 with Sorryaboutnothing.
Taylor, along with four brothers and two sisters, grew up around horses on his parent’s farm in Payette, Idaho. His father Herb trained horses and two brothers, Roy and J.D., also became trainers. “We learned a lot by helping out my dad at the farm and the track,” Troy related several years ago. “Roy was my identical twin. He would sub for me and nobody would know the difference. My dad couldn’t tell us apart and he called me ‘Twin’ until I was a teenager.”
Troy is survived by his wife Judy, brother Roy and sister Darlene. A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, December 30, 2019 from 2-5 p.m. at The Derby Bar & Grill, 17637 – 1st Avenue, Surrey, BC.
– Greg Douglas