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Pacific Northwest horse racing legend Troy Taylor dies at 88

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 19, 2019

By Jim Price For The Spokesman-Review

Pacific Northwest horse racing lost one of its legends Saturday when Troy Taylor died at his home near Langley, Washington, on Whidbey Island. He was 88.

Taylor, his identical twin, Roy, and their older sibling, J.D., built a midcentury dynasty as the Taylor Brothers, piling up victories and training titles with a series of inexpensive horses. Three decades later, Troy Taylor emerged as a western Canada superstar, winning eight championships and more than 100 stakes races at Vancouver’s Hastings Park. He is a member of the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Although they were Missouri natives, the Taylors grew up in Payette, Idaho. Their horses helped them lead the trainer standings for three straight years at Spokane’s Playfair Race Course.

Roy Taylor, in poor health following emergency surgery this fall, lives in Valleyford. J.D., the lead outrider at Longacres in Renton, Washington, for 40 years, died in 1999. Their late older brother, Hubert, was this state’s best-known racetrack horseshoer.

Equibase, thoroughbred racing’s official data source, publishes records dating only to 1964. Nonetheless, it credits Troy with 961 victories. Certainly, he had a couple of hundred more.

According to Troy’s widow, Judi, the boys entered the sport in the 1950s, buying a couple of cheap horses after serving in the Korean War. Soon, their gold silks with three red devils on the back began showing up in winner’s circles all over the region. Troy and Roy often traded places as the trainer of record while J.D. broke the colts and helped out around the barn.

They became Playfair regulars late in the decade, and Troy easily won the 1960 title with 19 winners. Roy saddled a record 26 winners the next year and won again with 23 in 1962. When Troy captured a Portland Meadows title, he beat out his good friend, Carl Baze, to win a new car.

In 1963, Troy led the trainers in Vancouver for the first time in 1963, defeating four other future hall of fame members. He didn’t win another for 44 years, when he was in his 70s, but that was the first of six in a row. By then, he had a powerhouse stable owned by customs broker Glen Todd, and their victories included almost all of Hastings Park’s major stakes races. Taylor was inducted into the province’s racing hall of fame in 2010. He retired in 2016.

At Longacres, he made his mark with Sandy Fleet, which broke the world 6 1/2-furlong record in the 1966 Governor’s Handicap, and the standout filly Turn to Fire. The latter helped Spokane native Jon White, a future nationally prominent racing journalist, cash his first $100 bet.

In addition to his twin, Troy Taylor is survived by his wife and a sister, Darlene Dolan of Valleyford. In the spring, his cremated remains will be interred with Taylor family members in Payette.

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