June 10, 2023
NYRA Racing Executive Taylor Retires After 58 Years

On April 15, 1964, Sentell “Sonny” Taylor Jr. started working as an assistant watchmaker for the New York Racing Affiliation. Aqueduct Racetrack and introduced his retirement, constructing a profession of almost six many years as a racing official and sports activities ambassador.

Taylor, 85, and an NYRA placement choose will resign on April 2, after 58 years, a interval when he labored because the official timer for Secretariat’s staggering 31-length victory within the 1973 Belmont Stakes (G1) to safe the Triple Crown. and has witnessed and directed hundreds of races on NYRA tracks.

“Sonny Taylor is a buddy, a mentor, and a racing encyclopedia and we’ll miss him,” stated Frank G. Gabriel Jr., NYRA’s senior vice chairman of racing operations. “There isn’t a one like Sonny and we’ll miss him. Honoring him in a means that highlights his many contributions to New York racing.”

Taylor’s mates learn just like the who-who-is-of-the-race. Teacher John Nerud was a buddy. So had been Horatio Luro, Penny Chenery, and Cot Campbell; with riders Angel Cordero Jr., John Rotz and Jacinto Vasquez. Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s spouse, is a buddy of latest bandleaders Cab Calloway and Rely Basie. Taylor visited Florida, California and even Japan through the holidays, the place she typically stayed along with her racing buddies and visited the tracks.

within the morning Saratoga Racewaysometimes grabbed a bench throughout from the jockey’s room to have a cigar and horse chat with everybody from racetracks and railbirds to jockeys, trainers and house owners; NFL Corridor of Fame and Thoroughbred English proprietor Invoice Parcells used to drop by typically on the go. At Belmont Park, Taylor’s morning perch was a seat close to the paddock, the place he was as more likely to begin a narrative about Kelso or Ruffian as yesterday’s fierce race.


Taylor was delighted to obtain guests to the jury sales space. He lined up the stands on the Belmont Park and Aqueduct tracks with images of legends like “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, Eddie Arcaro, and one other buddy, Corridor of Fame driver Gary Stevens. The sales space is a cease on an orientation tour for brand new NYRA staff who meet Taylor and sometimes get some recommendation: “Get to know the folks on the observe and what they’re as much as,” he suggested, and dived in. ambiance.

A Chicago native, Taylor attended Southern College in Baton Rouge, the place he performed faculty basketball. After working for the US Postal Service, he joined the US Military to serve in Germany earlier than a go to to New York modified the course of his life. Shortly after discharge, Taylor accompanied his great-uncle and NYRA watchmaker Earl Williams to the observe and preferred what he noticed.

At Williams’ recommendation, Taylor grew to become a watchmaker’s assistant working beneath the tutelage of Jack Kennedy, a fixture within the race workplace within the NYRA; He grew to become the official timer in 1971 and a patrol choose in 1972. By timing the races with a stopwatch, Taylor’s watches had been thought-about “official” in case the digital system malfunctioned.

Taylor was doing simply that in Secretariat’s record-breaking 2:24 efficiency within the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes 1973. “I saved my stopwatch and I did not actually imagine in time,” Taylor recalled. “Then I appeared on the board, which had the identical time. I assumed to myself, ‘Oh my god, how can a horse run so quick and win by such a large margin?’ I stated.”

Taylor timed two different Belmont Stakes that resulted in Triple Crowns – the Seattle Slew in 1977 and the Confirmed in 1978. In 1981, the late NYRA chairman of the board Alfred G. Vanderbilt Jr. A number of Belmont Stakes resulting in Triple Crowns titles—American Pharaoh in 2015 and To defend in 2018

Whereas Secretariat’s Belmont – 50 years in the past this June – stays Taylor’s most memorable day within the race, Dr. The heroism of different horses he sees, resembling Fager, Forego and Cigar, can be alive. One other race that stayed with him was Gun Bow’s rejection of the Woodward Stakes fourth win, beating Kelso at Aqueduct in 1964.

Aftercare was a selected ardour of Taylor’s, and in 2014 Previous Pals Thoroughbred Retirement honored her with the Frankel Lifetime Achievement Award. In accordance with Previous Pals, the horses he helped plant embrace Ogygian, Gulch, Kiri’s Clown, Awad, Hidden Lake, Polish Navy, Glitterman, Ruhlmann, Sunshine Eternally, Commentator, and Affirmed Success.

However Taylor isn’t one to speak endlessly in regards to the so-called “good previous days”. Nicely, possibly slightly bit. It harks again to a time when horses’ careers had been longer and followers might watch their favorites for six or seven years. He misses his departed mates and family members as a lot as his spouse Claire Taylor, who handed away in 2012 after 46 years of marriage.

But of all of the horses and races Taylor has witnessed, they’re the folks she is going to miss essentially the most in her retirement. “I’ve seen loads of nice races and a few nice performances, however I believe what I take pleasure in most is all of the completely different sorts of nice folks I’ve met and met on the races.”

Taylor promised to go to the observe typically, particularly Belmont Park, which stays her favourite observe and is a seven-minute drive from her condominium in Floral Park. “Belmont brings to thoughts a racetrack,” he stated. “The most effective racetrack within the nation.

“Moreover, I am going to have mates to see,” Taylor added. “As soon as the racetrack is in your blood, it is laborious to remain away.”

This press launch has been edited by the BloodHorse Group by way of content material and elegance.

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