"We can raise horses as good as any country in the world," says Gil Darlington, the manager of the farm and one of Taylor's key aides. "It's the raising of the horse that counts. You can breed a $10,000 stud to a good mare, and if you don't raise the foal right, you don't get a good racehorse. You can take a stud here that stands for only $1,000, breed him to the same mare, raise the foal properly and get a better racehorse." Even now, Victoria Park's sire, Chop Chop, stands for only $1,500.
The high point in Taylor's turf career thus far came in 1959 when he escorted Queen Elizabeth to Woodbine for the 100th running of the Plate. After the race, in which Taylor had entered New Providence, a 6-to-1 shot, he escorted the Queen across a red carpet to the infield, where he momentarily changed roles from president of The Jockey Club to the owner of the winner. New Providence had scored a 1�-length victory. After accepting the Queen's congratulations and the traditional leather purse containing 50 gold guineas, Taylor again became president of The Jockey Club and, to the cheers of the crowd, proudly escorted the Queen back to the royal box.
Taylor's Bahamian venture at Lyford Cay promises to be every bit as successful as his racing career. He first became interested while on vacation in Nassau in the early '50s. A group of local businessmen had their eyes on the area, and they wanted Taylor to come in with them. He was a logical partner: he was then well embarked in building Don Mills. Taylor demurred. "I told them I was in the Bahamas for a holiday," he says. "But as I spent more time there 1 realized the possibilities. I said I would do it if they would sell out to me. It was not suitable for partnership in view of the long-range development I had in mind. I had a five-year plan, and we started work in November of 1956."
The $2 million golf course and the $3 million golf clubhouse came first. Much of the land under both was marshy, rich black soil. Bulldozers scooped it out and stockpiled it near by. Engineers blasted out a huge section of a spiny coral ridge south of the proposed course and used that for fill. The marshy soil was then spread on top, and the result was beautiful fairways. The residential clubhouse, salmon-pink Bahamian Colonial, has 50 guest rooms, each with a view of the sea. The cuisine is French and is, Taylor's brochure boasts, "greatly praised by guests." In addition to both clubhouses and the golf course, Lyford Cay now has a servants' building where accommodations can be had for one's chauffeur, valet and/or personal maid. There is also a shopping center, a bank, an antique shop, a laundry, an elementary school, a shrub nursery growing all sorts of rare tropical flora, a skeet range, tennis courts, 70 windmills pumping water from 420 wells, 500 building lots, a company of private guards and a Church of England chapel donated by Taylor himself. The fishing is superb (there is no offseason in the Bahamas), and golden beaches gird the cay. For year-round residents, Lyford Cay also offers the allure of no income tax.
The 15-acre yacht harbor has been completed, and 50 yachts have visited there this season. Membership fees are low (the initiation fee is only $560), but the price of building lots is high, up to $70,000. Although a member is not required to buy a lot and build, many do. At present there are slightly more than 600 members. They include Henry Ford II, CBS Board Chairman William Paley, New York Yankee Owner Dan Topping and the Earl of Carnarvon.
Taylor, as usual, expects to turn a profit on the venture. When all the lots are sold, he will still own the utilities. Moreover, he has developed only 1,000 acres, and he has another 3,000 adjoining to play with. "I like everything I do," he says. "I don't do anything I don't like." Eddie Taylor has little reason to feel otherwise.