By Katie Ritz
If it's a tour featuring a barn where none other than American Pharoah was raised, you can guarantee racing fans are going to eat it up. Taylor Made Farm conducted their third live virtual tour Monday, Mar. 30 with a walk through their Yearling Complex, where so many eventual GI winners–including the Triple Crown Champion–have grown and developed. As with the rest of the Visit Horse Country virtual tours, this one was a hit. Within just the first two hours after the video was posted, it had received 4,000 views. Fans tuned in everywhere from Texas to Minnesota to Canada.
Taylor Made Farm's Mark Taylor is as excited as any viewer about the online series, despite the negative circumstances that made it necessary. “For our guests that can't do the Horse Country Tours now, this is a way for them to get a little look inside the backstage of Taylor Made even though they can't be here physically. This is something that can distract people. It's entertaining and it's positive, as opposed to just being tuned into the 24-7 news cycle of negativity.”
For Taylor and his brothers, the Yearling Complex holds a certain sense of sentimentality. “If you look at it now, it looks like a lot of barns in Central Kentucky,” Taylor said. “But my dad was well known for his talent in barn design and farm layout. When he built this barn, it was the first time he had the resources to do it right. This whole place is designed for horse safety and efficient handling. This was his showcase.”
Taylor continued, “I was in middle school when he designed it and I remember him sitting in the barn every night sketching out how the paddocks would fit together, measuring everything and laying it out. Every time I drive through it I think about my dad.”
Led by Assistant Experience Director Carly Moulden, the live tour kicked off with a visit with the yearling full brother to two-time Eclipse Champion Songbird (Medaglia d'Oro), before going through the barn and peaking into the tack room and feed room. Fans also got to meet special guest and resident barn cat Sancho. As the yearlings were turned out, viewers got a look at the exercise walker and learned about the yearlings' turnout schedule and exercise regimen.
While many racing fans are taking advantage of the learning opportunities these videos provide, Taylor said that he sees the potential for this series to be educational for Taylor Made clients as well.
“In these virtual tours, we talk quite a bit about the routine the horses go through every day,” Taylor said. “As I was watching our first tour of the nursery, I was thinking that it could be a great watch even for our customers. A lot of them pay their board bills and they're invested from afar, but there are certain parts of their horses' routines that they might not be aware of. They might think, 'Oh that's a pretty cool schedule my horse gets to live through every day. They get to go outside and play, and they have a pretty cool life.'”
Prior to the Yearling Complex feature, Taylor Made conducted two other virtual tours. The first, a look at the nursery facility and a visit with Grade I winner Dream of Summer, the dam of three graded stakes winners including Grade I winner Creative Cause (Giant's Causeway), along with her 2020 Uncle Mo filly. And next, a visit to the Aaron and Marie Jones Barn, where many graded stakes winners have been raised including three Breeders' Cup winners in Ashado (Saint Ballado), Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor), and Speightstown (Gone West). These virtual tours can be found here:
Nursery tour: Click here
Aaron and Marie Jones: Click here
Taylor Made will continue their series this week on Thursday at 2 p.m. with a Handicapping 101 class held by Medallion Racing Manager Phillip Shelton.
While it's not how the farm would like to be showing off their facility, Mark Taylor and the rest of the team are making the most of it and choosing to look at the bright side.
“If there's one positive development to come of this whole situation, I think it's that the sense of community is stronger than it was before,” Taylor said. “I think everybody is looking for ways to lift others up, and this is just one way for us to do that. I can look out my window and see mares and foals out grazing, and they're completely oblivious to what we're dealing with. I think this is a time when you can look at these animals and see how their quality of life is pretty high. They don't have to deal with any of this stuff, they're just taken care of by a bunch of humans who are completely devoted to them, and they get to look at the world from a different perspective.”