He was flirting with me. When I first approached him, he pretended not to see me. But when I stood my ground, he finally acknowledged me with his eyes and slowly lumbered over. Then we experienced a special connection, some type of special feeling that electrified the air between the two of us. Suddenly, he had my heart. My breath caught in my throat. Instinctively, he felt the same way, pushing his nose into my outstretched hand. When I walked away to visit others, I could feel his limpid brown eyes on me. He was flirting with me!
I reached the end of the pasture and turned. The horse named Taylor’s Special gazed across the quarter mile between us, longingly, asking for more. I’d never felt such a strong connection with an animal so quickly before. Even Maya, who had guided me around the farm, explaining the history of all the wonderful racehorses, said she felt the special connection between this stallion and me.
As I drove the eight hundred miles back to my Florida home, my mind raced with thoughts of Taylor. Physically, he was at least two hundred and fifty pounds underweight. Even though he was now clean, his coat was dull. Mentally, I sensed he wondered why he had been treated so poorly. I tried to send positive thoughts over the miles between us, which grew farther as I headed south.
Upon my return home, I decided to do some investigation into his history. I learned that Taylor had been found, alone, without food or clean water, in a small pasture in Washington State. Contacting Jenny at Hope for Horses, she advised that he had been abandoned at a farm in Granite Falls, Washington. An elderly couple, who had been active in breeding and racing thoroughbreds, had brought him down from Canada. They subsequently died, their farm was sold to developers, and no one knew Taylor was there. He ate grass and found rainwater as best he could. Jenny figured he was there at least three weeks without proper nourishment. That’s when Hope for Horses stepped in.
With financial assistance from The Exceller Fund, they removed him from Granite Falls and placed him in temporary foster care. Thereafter, Jenny researched his tattoo and discovered he was a million-dollar winner. She then contacted Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky. Michael Blowen knew there was a place for Taylor, so the horse with his passion for speed found his way back to Kentucky.
Although originally bred as a sprinter, two-year-old Taylor won four out of seven starts, including the Iroquois Stakes. He captured back-to-back victories in the 1984 Louisiana Derby and Blue Grass Stakes. With the combination of staying power and speed, Taylor took his shot at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He really got rolling at four, winning the Count Fleet Sprint, Chaucer Cup, Hot Springs and Peleteri Handicaps. At five, it was the Isaac Murphy, River City, and the Louisiana Downs Breeders Cup Stakes. At six, he again won the Isaac Murphy and also the Washington Park Handicap. With that win, Taylor’s earnings climbed to over $1,000,000, which was considered a tidy sum in the mid-1980s.
In 1985, he set a new track record at Canterbury for six-and-a-half furlongs in 1:16.4. There is also an overnight stakes race named for him at Arlington Park, and he set yet another track record there for six furlongs in 1:08, which still stands today. At stud, he produced blacktype winners.
With love, proper vet care, and an excellent diet, Taylor gained those two hundred and fifty pounds and more. By July, 2006, he looked and acted like the grand ol’ stallion he knew he was. His attitude was positive; he was a winner and felt it. But one morning in mid-September, Taylor perhaps tried to jump a gate, and sustained what appeared to be minor cuts, scratches and abrasions. As he was led from his pasture back to the barn for the night, he apparently took a bad step, shattering his left rear leg. Dr. Holly, the vet servicing Old Friends, was called. After x-rays, it was discovered that the leg was too badly injured, so twenty-five-year-old Taylor’s Special was humanely euthanized.
Go swiftly, my Moon Horse, into the night sky. St. Peter will hold the gate open for you. You are loved still.