Phil Grove

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Phil Grove
Born(1947-06-28)June 28, 1947
Frederick, Maryland, United States
Career wins3,991
Major racing wins
Twixt Stakes (2)
Racing awards
  • George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award (1994)
  • Federico Tesio Award (1985)
Phil Grove
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CitizenshipUnited States

Phil Grove (June 28, 1947) is a retired American jockey who recorded 3,991 career victories during a career that spanned four decades. He was the nation’s leading apprentice jockey in 1967 with 219 wins, twice won the Twixt Stakes (1978 and 1981), and ultimately won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1994.[1]

Early life

Grove was born in Frederick, Md., June 28, 1947, the third of five children — all sons — to Clyde Ezra Grove and Madeline Rebecca Grove. He attended Frederick High School where he ran cross country and track for two local legendary coaches: Hal Moser and Jack Griffin, a former U.S. Olympic Team coach. Grove graduated high school in 1965.

Jockey career

As a high school student, the diminutive Grove, who stood 5-foot-2, 120 pounds, started attending horse races at Charles Town Racetrack in West Virginia as a spectator. In the fall of 1966, the 19-year-old Grove was introduced to Frank Smith Jr., who offered Grove a job as a stable hand, which led him to become an exercise rider. Smith Jr. put Grove under contract to race for him and other trainers. The first of Grove’s more than 26,000 career mounts was on Goliath at Charles Town on Oct. 20, 1966, where he placed fourth. His first winner was aboard Kathryn Khobar on Oct. 31, 1966. He had 18 rides in 1966 with four wins. Since Grove got his start so late in the 1966 season, Smith deferred Grove’s “bug year” or apprentice season to 1967. Grove responded with 219 victories in 1967 to lead all apprentice jockeys in the U.S.

Grove won the inaugural Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park Racecourse aboard Red Lamp in 1978 in a time of 1:45.80. That stood as the fastest time at the event until 1984. Grove returned to the Twixt Stakes winner’s circle in 1981 aboard Dance Forth.

During a racing career that lasted from 1966 until 1997, Grove campaigned in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. He also competed in races in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey (Atlantic City, Garden State, and Monmouth), New York (Aqueduct and Belmont), and in Canada.

On November 11, 1995, Phil Grove raced in the same event with his son, Chris Grove. A Pro-Am Jockey Challenge, held at Laurel Park, featured four professional jockeys and four amateur jockeys. Chris finished seventh and Phil eighth.

With his career winding down, he finished the 1996 season at Laurel, where he recorded his final victory aboard Snowrico's Alden on Nov. 2. He started the 1997 season at Laurel, before retiring about a month into the season. His last ride was aboard Assault on Mecca on March 27, 1997, placing ninth out of 11.

When he retired, his 3,991 wins ranked 26th all time in the U.S. That total stands at 79th overall as of Dec. 31, 2020.

Although Grove never raced in any of the American Classics (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont), he did race against many of the jockey legends, including Bill Shoemaker, Jorge Velasquez, Angel Cordero Jr., Walter Blum, and Howard Grant.

After 1990 jockey retirement

After retiring as a jockey, Grove attended the Stewards Accreditation School in Louisville, Ky. He first worked for Penn National Gaming in West Virginia in 1998 and 1999. He then became a steward for Maryland in 2000 (and ultimately head steward), where he oversaw the running of the Preakness for 15 years, until his retirement in 2015. He is the father of Chris Grove, a former amateur rider and professional trainer who trained two Preakness horses, and the grandfather of Noah Grove, a Paralympic gold medal winner for the U.S. Men’s Sled Hockey team in 2018.[2] Grove resides in Frederick, Md., with his wife, Sandra.


First Ride: Goliath, Oct. 20, 1966 at Charles Town (placed fourth)
First Winner: Kathryn Khobar, 1966
Last Winner: Snowrico’s Alden, Nov. 2, 1996 at Laurel
Last Ride: Assault on Mecca, March 27, 1997 at Laurel (placed ninth out of 11)


Starts: 26,901 Firsts: 3,991 Seconds: 3,761 Thirds: 3,580 Total Earnings: $16,511,842

Milestone Wins

1 - Kathryn Khobar, Oct. 31, 1966
2,500 - All Square, Aug. 18, 1980
3,000 - Beautiful Site, July 12, 1987
3,500 - Tale, Aug. 4, 1990
3,991 - Snowrico’s Alden, Nov. 2, 1996 at Laurel


  1. "George Woolf Award winners". Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  2. "Paralympic sled hockey gold 'definitely a top moment in my life so far' for Frederick's Grove". Baltimore Sun. Baltimore Sun. March 27, 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2021.

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