Day At The Track

Remembering Jerry Taylor

08:11 AM 22 May 2015 NZST
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Jerry Taylor (left, in dark jacket)
Jerry Taylor (left, in dark jacket) and Howard Taylor (center, in plaid pants) celebrate after Buck I St Pat won the 2008 Maxie Lee Memorial. Photo provided by Howard Taylor
Howard Taylor Photo

Howard Taylor has enjoyed many memorable moments in harness racing, but nothing in his past might compare to the emotions he will feel this weekend.

On Sunday, Harrah's Philadelphia will present the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older pacers, an event named in honor of Taylor's late father. Jerome "Jerry" Taylor, a Philadelphia-based attorney who participated in harness racing for more than four decades, passed away in October 2013 at the age of 82.

"This is probably my biggest honor in harness racing," said Taylor, who in addition to being an attorney himself has owned, trained and driven harness racing horses for more than 35 years. "Horses mean a lot to me, but they meant even more to him. He never, ever missed a race. He would go everywhere and he absolutely loved them.

"I remember friends of his would get mad at him because he would never make plans to go anywhere until after the draw came out. You couldn't call him up to see what he was doing next weekend because he wanted to see if his horse got in to race. He knew what he was doing if the horse got in."

Taylor developed his own passion for harness racing through his father, who bought his first horse in 1972. Jerry Taylor got into owning horses through a client who was a trainer and owned a number of successful horses over the years. Among the most notable was New Jersey Sire Stakes and Grand Circuit champion Devil's Adversary.

He renamed a number of his horses to include "Devil" in the name because of the success of Handsome Devil a year prior to the arrival of Devil's Adversary in 1983.

"That was his first really good horse," Taylor said about Handsome Devil. "He thought that was lucky, so the next year he named all his horses 'Devil.' He changed the names of all of them."

Jerry Taylor, who raced at Liberty Bell and Brandywine Raceway for years, was known for his sense of humor.

"He was a bit of a cutup," Taylor said. "He had more one-liners and things to make people laugh than anybody."

The Jerry Taylor Invitational features an eight-horse field that includes Levy Memorial Pacing Series champion Domethatagain, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite, as well as 2014 Canadian Pacing Derby winner Modern Legend and millionaires Clear Vision and Dancin Yankee.

"My father and I were very close," said Taylor, who is probably best known for owning three-time Dan Patch Award-winning female trotter Buck I St Pat. "I worked with him my whole life because when I worked with the horses when I was younger they were his horses. When I became a lawyer, I went to work for him and then I became a partner in the firm. I spent more time with my father than anybody.

"I miss him terribly. It's going to be an emotional day, but I'm looking forward to it. I was touched when I found out they decided to name the race after him. No one loved racing more than my father."

by Ken Weingartner

Harness Racing Communications


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