By Sarah Welk Baynum

For Brad and Misty Grady, the start of their successful breeding and racing operation, including their Grand Oaks Equine Training Center in Reddick, Fla., began with Texas veterinarion Dr. Joe Cannon and pinhooking their first horse.

“He was like a father figure to me,” Brad Grady says fondly of the late Dr. Cannon. “We unfortunately lost Dr. Cannon in November of 2022 and I’m just eternally grateful to him and his family and that he got me involved with Thoroughbreds to begin with.

“When I made enough money to afford to lose money, he was my veterinarian. I trusted him and he talked me into the business and with pinhooking specifically.”

In 2008, Dr. Cannon and the Gradys partnered on their first horse, from the first crop by First Samurai. “We bought a filly who ended up being a graded-stakes winner. That was my first taste of the horse business,” Grady said.

But out of the many horses the Grady’s have owned over the years, it’s Girvin who ended up being the apple of their eye.

“My farm manager, Bobby Dodd, and I bought Girvin together in 2015 as a yearling to pinhook. He prepped good for the sale as a 2-year-old. However, he ended up getting an injury there at the sale. His leg blew up. While it ended up being just superficial, we couldn’t sell the horse, so I was kind of forced to run him instead,” Grady said.

But what seemed like bad luck at the time, ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Girvin would go on to earn $1,624,392 from four wins in 10 starts with three seconds and entered the 2017 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (Grade 1) as the leader with 150 qualifying points among the 20 starters.

A son of Tale of Ekati, Girvin started his sophomore campaign winning the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds but experienced difficult racing luck in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

While Grady says there have been so many great moments as a Thoroughbred owner, it was Girven’s first graded stakes win in the Risen Star that is most memorable.

“It was a big group of us—my wife, kids, and trainer Joe Sharp were all there. I had recently committed some horses to the young Joe Sharp and his wife, [jockey] Rosie Napravnik… …back in 2015. [The Risen Star victory] the most memorable racing moment I’ve had thus far.”

Ridden in the Derby by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Girvin was bumped at the start and was in tight quarters during the initial stages. He then lacked room on the far turn and was never able to produce his best effort, finishing 13th behind winner Always Dreaming.

Girvin started only once as a 4-year-old before retiring to stand in Florida at Ocala Stud where he began his successful career as a stallion.

“I did his first crop. He sired a Grade 1-winner that Bob Baffert trained named Faiza. He had two Grade 2 winners as well—Damon’s Mound was one and then Dorth Vader was another,” Grady said.

Both Damon’s Mound and Dorth Vader are Florida-breds.

Brad and Misty Grady bred and owned the winners of both divisions of the third legs of the prestigious FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes on Dec. 2— a feat previously accomplished only three times since the inception of the series in 1982. Their Honey Dijon won the $300,000 My Dear Girl while Seminole Chief won the $300,000 In Reality. The last to do so was Jacks or Better Farm Inc. with their homebreds Awesome Belle (My Dear Girl) and Fort Loudon (In Reality).

The Grady’s, especially Misty Grady, make sure the horses that are in need of second careers are donated to Thoroughbred aftercare programs such as New Vocations.

Now retired from riding, Napravnik retrains OTTB’s—many for the Gradys. She is involved with helping the Grady’s with the retraining of their retired racehorses and finding new homes after their time on the track is complete. She has taken some of the Grady’s horses to several Thoroughbred Makeover events promoted by The Retired Racehorse Project.

Return to the March 12 issue of Wire to Wire