NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Taylor Made Farm, along Route 169 in Jessamine County is perhaps most famous for raising one of the greatest racehorses of all time - American Pharoah. The president and CEO of the farm said it grew from humble beginnings, but has become a major player in the industry.
"The horse business is part of the fabric of Kentucky," said Mark Taylor, the president and CEO of Taylor Made Farm.
That business requires a lot of passion and a bit of vision.
"If you look at what makes Taylor Made unique, it's, I think, where we came from," he said.
Taylor's family had both. His father, Joe Taylor, worked at Gainesway Farm north of Lexington for decades. Joe Taylor had always been around horses.
"He still rode a horse to Good Shepard School in Frankfort every morning. He rode a horse. He had to put his horse out there in the stable, make sure it was taken care of for the day, go out at recess, take care of the horse. Everybody was doing that. It was pretty commonplace," Taylor said.
Joe Taylor had bought some land to raise crops in Jessamine County and his sons thought it might be good for horses, too.
"It was a very organic start. My brother Duncan started the farm while he was still attending UK back in 1976 and our services have expanded since then from boarding into sales, into stallions, we do partnerships to bring new people into the industry. It's really just grown out of humble beginnings and a need that Mr. Gaines had and we were trying to help him fill it," Taylor said.
When they started the farm, Nicholasville wasn't the traditional setting for horse farms, like the ones in Fayette and Woodford counties.
"A lot of people said, 'Joe, that's great. You've got that little hobby farm down there, but you'll never be able to raise a good horse in Jessamine County'," Taylor said.
In the 46 years since then, a lot has changed.
"Gives you goosebumps, even to think about that kind of racing royalty being here," Taylor said.
That royalty includes one of the most dominant racehorses in history.
"American Pharoah, he's probably the most famous horse we've ever raised," Taylor said.
Over the years, Taylor said they've either raised or sold 130 Grade 1 winners. One of their stallions, Knicks Go, won the Eclipse Horse of the Year award in 2021. Taylor said the farm also wants to help evolve the industry by creating opportunities for everyday people to jump into the world of racing.
"We want to open our farm to bring in new people at lower price points that can invest in our partnerships. It's a way to have exposure to animals, exposure to the beauty of raising, selling, and racing racehorses for people who can do it at a lower price point because most people can't afford to just go plunk down $1 million and get into the horse business," Taylor said.
They hope it will be another way to envision the future, just like the family did all those years ago when they raised their first horses against the odds in these Jessamine County fields.
"I think over the last 40 years, we've proved that wrong. You can raise great horses in Jessamine County. In fact, the best horses in the world," Taylor said.