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Sentell 'Sonny' Taylor celebrates 50 years at The New York Racing Association, Inc.

By Nailah Ellis Timberlake | 04/04/2014 05:36 PM ET
Sonny Taylor
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will recognize placing judge, Sentell 'Sonny' Taylor for his 50 years of service at NYRA on Saturday, April 5, TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Day, with a special ceremony after the day's first race, which will be named the "Sonny's 50th Anniversary".

Taylor, 77, is one of the longest tenured racing officials in the country. Born in Chicago, he was a newly discharged soldier in 1964 when his uncle Earl Williams, NYRA's head clocker, got him a job as an assistant clocker Taylor became an official timer in 1971, a patrol judge in 1972 and a placing judge in 1981. During the 1970s, Taylor timed the races for three Triple Crown Winners: Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. 

From 1957 to 1961, Taylor was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a mail clerk sorting mail on trains. From 1961 to 1963, he was an Army supply clerk, reaching the rank of Corporal and serving 18 months in Munich, Germany.

"I'm honored to be recognized by NYRA for my 50th year in racing," said Taylor. "I've seen a lot of great races and I've enjoyed all the people I've encountered during my racing career. My only regret is that my wife, who was my biggest supporter, isn't here to see this."

Sonny's wife, Claire Taylor passed away in 2012 after 46 years of marriage.

"Sonny Taylor is truly one of the New York Racing Association's treasures," said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. "His warmth and ever-present smile enrich the lives of all who encounter him each day. We are proud to salute him and his outstanding service to our organization."