Leading thoroughbred sales consigner
calls Jessamine County home
Since 1986, Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville has been family owned and has grown to be known as one of the leading horse sales agencies in the world.
Having sold more than $1.6 billion in horses over the course of 30 years, Taylor Made recently acquired Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, which Experience Director Laura Richard said is now the star of the show.
“Through Horse Country, we offer the California Chrome experience,” Richard said. “We have tours going every day and doing sort of what we call these elevated experiences. People are latching on and they love it. It is just a fun activity for any age. It is educational and you get to see these horses that you see out there on the track and wonder, ‘Well, what do they do now?’ The California Chrome Experience is the most expensive we have ever done. You get to meet him and we parade him around just like you are our client. You get your picture with him and this will be his first crop of foals coming this year, so once they start having babies, we will take people to meet them.”
Richard said those who come to Taylor Made will also be given the opportunity to experience tours explaining the history of the farm and how it has grown throughout the years. Owned by five brothers — Duncan, Chris, Ben, Frank and Mark Taylor — the farm started with the purpose of boarding mares for breeding in central Kentucky. Their father, Joe Taylor, grew up on a farm in Lexington and the five boys spent their summers helping him prepare for the yearling sales in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“How they became knowledgeable is their father worked at Gainsway Farm for years,” Richard said. “He didn’t put up money for Taylor Made, but he always had his boys learning and doing all the normal labor, so by the time they were 16 or 17 years old, they had all this knowledge built up.”
The brothers spent their time raising tobacco, baling hay, raising cattle and helping with the Gainsway yearlings.
In 1976, Taylor Made Sales Agency was founded in order to provide services caring for mares shipped to Kentucky for breeding with a stallion. Taylor Made expanded with its first Keeneland consignment in 1978, renting several farms to accommodate its growing business and clientele. Realizing their need to purchase a farm to sustain their business, Taylor Made purchased its current location that began as only 120 acres on Union Mill Road in Nicholasville. Today, it has grown to 1,600 acres.
“At the time, Nicholasville was kind of in the outskirts,” Richard said. “(But) this was the land they could afford. Now, all the brothers are in their late 40s to 60s and their children are in their 20s to 30s and are known as the ‘nexters.’ They are starting to come into the business, so it is pretty neat.”
Richard said Taylor Made strives to educate people about the horsing industry. She has noticed many in the younger generation are not getting as involved as the older generation did in the past.
“In the horse business, we are 100 percent a name brand and well-known household name, but what we noticed is the money is old money and there is not a lot of new money coming into the industry,” Richard said. “We are not doing enough as an industry to bring new people in to get excited about the sport. We are not being advocates of our own sport and industry.”
This, she said, is one of the reasons why Taylor Made is branching out and offering many different kinds of tours to visitors to educate and hopefully excite them about the business and horse industry. Richard said Taylor Made’s most popular tour for visitors is the general farm tour, which is offered daily.
“That is offered all year for an hour-and-a-half. Visitors get to experience the life cycle of a horse,” Richard said. “We start at the breeding shed. We learn what it takes to get a horse pregnant or on the stallion side, we learn what we are doing to keep these stallions fit to breed. You will learn all the terminologies of different types of horses. We go meet the stallions and California Chrome, when he is here.”
Chrome, Richard said, is shuttled throughout the southern hemisphere, including Australia, between July and January for breeding, although he always returns in the spring to Taylor Made. Richard said the farm handles 600 horses when it is full and sells to companies eight months out of the year. She said from June through September is when visitors will find the farm at its fullest, as the horses who are ready have not gone off to sales yet.
“We do sales preparations or we hold horses here until the owner decides what track they want to ship them to learn how to be a race horse,” Richard said. “We give visitors the full tour. That way they see every stage of the process. If you visit in the spring, obviously it is more geared to the breeding and the babies because that is what is going on. If you visit in the fall, it is more about the selling, the sales preparation and race preparation. The tour always changes. So, even if you have been here once, just come a different time of year and it will be a different experience.”
For more information, visit taylormadesales.com.