How a Life in Horse Racing Led to a Partnership with The V Foundation
Duncan Taylor never dreamed of being in a position to help raise thousands of dollars for cancer research or own a champion Thoroughbred like California Chrome. In fact, growing up working on a farm in Kentucky, he just wanted to get his foot in the door of the horse racing world. It was a long journey, but his commitment to the sport and to giving back has given him the chance to accomplish both.
This year, with Chrome getting set to run the final races of his career, Taylor and Chrome’s ownership team began discussing ideas on how to best take advantage of such an amazing horse, who also has an incredible fan base and following. After some internal discussions, the team decided it would like to support The V Foundation. “Of course being from Lexington, Kentucky, I love college basketball. So I went and re-watched Jimmy V’s speech, and his message in the speech seemed to fit what we believed perfectly,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s career in the horse racing industry started young. “I grew up working on Gainesway Farm, from when I was eight, whether it was bailing hay or raising tobacco or working around the horses,” said Taylor. Eventually, he started his own boarding operation with a friend, which turned into a consigner business that sold horses at public auction. That small operation, which not only included Taylor but his brothers Ben, Frank and Mark, eventually grew to sell more horses through public auction than anyone in the industry, with over $2 billion in sales. In 1993, they wanted to take the next step in the horse racing business: stallions.
However, getting into the stallion game isn’t something most people who make a living inside the industry can do. “We are competing against billionaires. Any money we made has been out of the horse business,” said Taylor. While they had success with stallions once Taylor Made got into the business, including Unbridled Song, it wasn’t until July 2015 when they got their hands on one of the best Thoroughbreds of all-time: California Chrome. “We didn’t really think we would have the opportunity to get a horse like Chrome, but one partner wanted to sell out and we were fortunate enough to hit it off with the majority owner to buy in. We just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.”
Like most, Taylor has been affected personally by cancer. His dad battled prostate cancer years ago before passing away, and his wife was diagnosed with a splenic marginal zone lymphoma five years ago. After receiving treatment, thankfully she is in remission, although doctors said the cancer may return. “It was scary, but really it’s anxiety more than being scared. You’re anxious because you’re wondering how much time you have,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he hopes those battling cancer and their friends and family can use cheering for Chrome as a brief respite in their fight. “There’s a spirit in a race horse, especially a good one, that fits in with the “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up” message,” said Taylor. “When you don’t have hope, that’s a very desperate place to be.”
Chrome is set to run in the TVG Pacific Classic on August 20. He’ll also race at the Breeders’ Cup on November 5. You can join Team Chrome in supporting cancer research by donating here.