Day At The Track
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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 USTA

Dave Drew enjoyed his biggest thrill in harness racing last year when Modern Legend won the Canadian Pacing Derby. He hopes the horse can add to his legend with another strong campaign this season. Modern Legend - the only horse Drew owns - races in Sunday's inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia, where he will face a group that includes Levy Pacing Series champion Domethatagain and millionaires Clear Vision and Dancin Yankee. Modern Legend and driver James MacDonald will start from post eight. The race is part of a star-studded card that also features the $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters - where Dan Patch Award-winners Bee A Magician, Father Patrick, Classic Martine and Market Share make up half the field - and the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers. Seven-year-old Modern Legend heads to the Jerry Taylor Invitational off a second-place finish by a nose to JK Endofanera in last Saturday's opening round of the TVG Free For All Pacing Series at the Meadowlands. For the year, Modern Legend has posted two wins, a second and a third in four starts. He has won 21 of 67 career races and earned $916,192 for Drew, who also bred and trains the gelding. "I feel very good about him," said Drew, a 63-year-old from Ontario. "We'll do our best with (the post position). He's raced very well so far this year, so I'm certainly hoping for the best on Sunday in the Jerry Taylor. "Having a horse like him, it's something that's beyond anything I could have expected in racing," he added. "It's just been a real thrill to have this horse." Drew owned horses while working fulltime at General Motors in Ontario for 33 years. He began training after he retired from GM a dozen years ago. Modern Legend is a son of Modern Art out of the mare Ruby Cam. Drew and his brother, Greg, raced Ruby Cam, winning six of 11 races including the Middlesex County Pacing Series championship in 2003. Last season, Modern Legend and driver David Miller captured the $583,280 Canadian Pacing Derby at odds of 66-1, winning by three lengths over Foiled Again. "That's absolutely the highlight of racing for me," Drew said. "To have this horse and win the Canadian Pacing Derby was just outstanding. To be a part of this horse, he's just a fantastic animal. He did a great job. I couldn't be prouder of him." Drew is not alone. His wife Nancy and daughters Lisa and Stephanie are the horse's biggest fans. "They probably cheer the loudest of anyone when he's racing," Drew said. "They're avid fans. And they're very supportive of what I'm doing." Modern Legend, who was unraced at age 2 by design, put together an eight-race win streak bridging his 3- and 4-year-old seasons during which he swept the Autumn, Snowshoe and Cam Fella series. He was injured as the result of interference in the Cam Fella final and sidelined nine months, but returned to earn $229,469 at age 5. Last year, he banked a career-best $405,514, with five wins in 23 starts, and established his career mark of 1:47.2. He won four of his final 11 races and in the seven remaining starts lost only once by more than 1-3/4 lengths. "He closed out last year very well," Drew said. "I took it easy with him over the winter, kept him jogging and swimming. Swimming is part of his regular routine. I was hopeful coming into this year. He's probably started out at least as well as I would have expected for this season. I'm very happy with that. "He's staked somewhat comparable to last year. His next stakes engagement is the Ben Franklin at Pocono. Hopefully he'll fit in there and be ready to go for that." Following is the field for the Jerry Taylor Invitational in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Doctor Butch, John Campbell, Linda Toscano 2. Sapphire City, Mark MacDonald, Paul Blumenfeld 3. Domethatagain, Simon Allard, Rene Allard 4. Great Vintage, David Miller, Jimmy Takter 5. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr. 6. Dancin Yankee, Brett Miller, Josh Green 7. Clear Vision, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 8. Modern Legend, James MacDonald, David Drew Following is the field for the Betsy Ross Mare Invitational in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Sayitall BB, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 2. Anndrovette, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr. 3. Radar Contact, John Campbell, Noel Daley 4. Jerseylicious, David Miller, Wayne Givens 5. Table Talk, Andy Miller, Bart Dalious 6. Yagonnakissmeornot, Simon Allard, Rene Allard 7. Ooh Bad Shark, Allan Davis, William Wiggins 8. For The Ladies N, Brian Sears, Peter Tritton Following is the field for the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Lindy's Tru Grit, Andy Miller, Julie Miller 2. DW's NY Yank, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman 4. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano 5. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter 6. Melady's Monet, John Campbell, Kevin McDermott 7. Classic Martine, Tim Tetrick/George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes 8. Bourbon Bay, John Cummings Jr., Megan Wilson by Ken Weingartne Harness Racing Communications USTA

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