Howard Grant, one of the top riders on the Southern California circuit in the early 1970s, died on Wednesday in Florida at the age of 79, according to his daughter, Deborah Lassiter.
Grant was the leading rider the summer of 1971 at Del Mar, a season highlighted by a victory in the Del Mar Derby. He was widely respected for his skill in the saddle and his perseverance in battling through weight problems.
“He was a hell of a rider,” Ron McAnally, the Hall of Fame trainer, said at his Del Mar barn on Friday morning. “We won a lot of races together.”
Grant won 1,944 races during his career. After retiring from riding, he was a racing official for years at River Downs in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He retired from that position about nine years ago, Lassiter said.
Grant won his first race at now-defunct Cranwood Park in Cleveland, won a riding title at Gulfstream Park, and spent much of his time on the East Coast in the 1960s before moving to California, where he won titles at Del Mar and the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
He won such major races as the Beldame, Coaching Club American Oaks, Yellow Ribbon, and Washington D.C. International, and the Vosburgh aboard the eventual Hall of Famer Affectionately.
No services are planned.