Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: UPS Driver Grant Trains Millionaire, G1 Winner

by | 04.12.2017 | 9:25pm
Trainer Gaston Grant (right) celebrates Green Gratto's Carter Handicap victory

Little-known trainer Gaston Grant describes his journey with millionaire New Jersey-bred Green Gratto as “once in a million.” Whatever the odds attached to their success, they are long.

Grant remains in the early stages of building his credentials as a horseman as he scrambles to find time to oversee his small stable at Aqueduct Racetrack while maintaining a full-time position as a driver for United Parcel Service in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Green Gratto entered his life in a most unusual way. Grant did not acquire him at auction or in a private sale or via the claiming box. Incredibly, the horse was a gift from Peter Chin, a trainer who provided Grant with his start as a hotwalker in 2004. They became good friends.

Green Gratto, known for a grinding style that matches Grant's work ethic, is a gift that keeps on giving. The modestly-bred son of Here's Zealous notched the first Grade 1 victory of his career at the unlikely age of 7 when he shocked heavily-favored Unified by a neck to win the $400,000 Carter Handicap for jockey Christopher DeCarlo last Saturday at Aqueduct. The $240,000 he banked in his 53rd career start pushed his earnings to $1,100,872.

“It was sweet,” Grant said of the Carter upset at 54-1. “I've been with him since he got on the racetrack at 2, so it's good when you see that your work pays off.”

Grant, 53, typically arrives at Aqueduct's Barn 4 at 4:30 a.m. By the time his U.P.S. route is completed, he said he often does not arrive at his Brooklyn home until 9 p.m. or so. He regrets that he cannot spend more time with his wife, Audrey, or with Ariel, their 20-year-old daughter.

Otherwise, he is a picture of contentment as he uses a hose to splash soothing cold water onto Green Gratto's front legs.

“This is not like work for me,” said Grant. “I like it here.”

The native of Kingston, Jamaica essentially maintains a seven-horse stable by himself, mucking stalls and walking horses after their morning exercise. He does not employ any assistants and receives only occasional help. Five of his seven horses are maidens; four horses are owned by outside interests. He co-owns Green Gratto with his brother, Anthony.

Grant never forgets his indebtedness to Chin for a gift that reaped unimagined rewards. He said of Green Gratto, “His doing what he's doing is helping me tremendously.”

The dark bay or brown horse stands more than 17 hands. He owns nine wins, nine runner-up finishes and eight third-place showings. His 7-year-old campaign is off to an extremely encouraging start. He began the year with a head victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan in mid-January before faltering in seventh in the G3 Tom Fool Handicap. Grant said Green Gratto bled in the Tom Fool but rebounded to work “like a freight train” for the Carter.

“He shows no sign of slowing down,” said Grant, who became a trainer three years ago. “Look at him. He kept his weight. He kept his form. I love this horse. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize him. He is just one amazing horse. I'm blessed.”

Grant's brother, Anthony, said they were overcome by emotion when Green Gratto valiantly fought off Unified in deep stretch.

“We hugged each other and shed tears,” Anthony said, “because he wanted to win a Grade 1 so bad.”

Green Gratto ran as hard as Grant had worked to prepare him. According to Anthony, his brother has been a relentless worker since he was young.

“He always had energy to keep going,” Anthony said. “He's not the type of person to lay back and think things will fall into his lap. He'll go get it. That's just his nature.”

Anthony marvels at the bond that exists between his brother and Green Gratto, the New Jersey-bred Horse of the Year in 2015.

“He talks to the horse a lot,” Anthony said. “Sometimes the horse will listen to him. Sometimes he don't.”

Green Gratto was extremely responsive to DeCarlo in the Carter. He benefitted from an unpressured lead and refused to yield to heavy pressure from Unified in returning $110 for a $2 win wager.

“He looked great and warmed up great,” DeCarlo said. “He had him ready, obviously. You don't win Grade 1s by not having him ready, that's for sure.”

DeCarlo thinks Green Gratto's size offers a significant advantage.

“If he opens a couple of lengths on the field, he's doing it easy whereas the other horses are taking two or three strides to keep up with his one stride,” he said.

Chin attributes the Grade 1 breakthrough to Grant's meticulous care.

“As a trainer of Green Gratto and other horses, he's very attentive, very diligent,” he said.

Despite Green Gratto's hefty earnings, Grant intends to retain his U.P.S. position because of the certainty of that income. He hopes the attention he is receiving might influence other minority members to embark on training careers.

“Anything you can do to affect somebody's life in a positive way, you would relish that,” he said. “But I don't really think about the black-white issue so much as putting out a good product. If you have a good product, color really doesn't matter.”

  • john

    Such a great story….this Grade 1 win will make Green Gratto a more desirable stallion prospect when he goes to stud. Congrats!!

  • Brent T

    Awesome Stuff.

  • kramhslew

    Good to see hard work rewarded, bravo!

  • Chris


  • Trumpet

    Every story with Mr. Grant features a reporter pushing the ‘you realize you’re black?’ angle, with Mr. Grant deflecting it as he did here. This country is at it’s core made up of only 2 kinds of people: those that make excuses, and those that make things happen. That last quote of his was brilliant – I will cheer him on for the rest of my life.

    • lastromantibune

      the thing is the man has what it takes to succeed. he does don’t muddle with oh poor me attitude. Life tends to pass you bye when you use that excuse

      • Tinky

        Yes, but on the other hand, if you work in the racing industry you can say “Whoa is me!”.

        • whirlaway

          Tinky that is quite witty thank you for a smile and a laugh it always brightens a day.

  • ziggypop

    Love this story!

    Bravo to Mr. Grant and his brother.

  • David Worley

    Great story, best of luck to Mr. Grant.

    • Virginia Lawler

      Absolutely…and to the great combination with co-owner Anthony and jockey Chris DeCarlo!

  • gus stewart

    Great story, these are the things and many others that are positive that make horse a unique sport. The connections between a human and an animal, those of us that have been around the game for years,, going to races early in morning at a barn, watching workouts going to the races for a day going to dinner getting home at nine at night, and wanting to get up, and looking forward to the next morning at 430am. Those are things that you dont find in to many activities in any lifetime. Gotta live it to understand it!!!!!!!

  • Larry Sterne

    what a wonderful trainer he is everything a trainer should be. Others take note.

    • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

      Really, look at the horse’s racing career. 47 races in past 3 1/4 years!! I would never let my trainer run my horse that often.

      • Tjs

        Move on guy. We saw your blog earlier. Sound horses like to run.

  • Bruce Walker

    Putting out a good product. Amen. Hard work. Amen. Anyone who cates what color someone is Loser. Good product Good work ethic. Winner. Keep it up.

  • Deb

    Bravo Mr. Grant! I wish you success always. Your horse, Green Gratto is just lovely, he is a very beautiful horse, a very kind eye.

  • Kelly

    That was a very nice story. He certainly seems to be a gentleman worth rooting for. Here’s to more Grade I’s.

  • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

    Great story regarding hard work, diligence and luck. However…(I’m such a party pooper) give the horse a break!!! 6 races as a 3 YO and since then 47 races in 3 1/4 years. Come on!

    • todd fortune

      Here is what your missing with this sentiment. The horse just won a grade 1 race. The horse has responded to the training and the frequency of his races is a major part of the training. The horse is at the center of the game, a happy horse preforms for you. He is a big horse that must have good conformation and very little physical issues. Doug Oneil made Lava Man a pony when he could not compete any longer because the horse preferred the race track over anything else. Green Gratto is a happy horse and his performance shows this fact in spades.

      • Virginia Lawler


  • greg

    My License plate says :

    • Virginia Lawler

      It took 2 readings, but I finally got it. Great fun. Very clever.

      • thestockbroker

        Thank you, here’s the license plate I had on my car when we moved from Calif., the fun I had looking in my rear view mirror at red lights…. LB6 UB9

  • Tinky

    Terrific story.

    I wish that I had serious money so that I could give him a further leg up.

  • B

    This gentleman is doing what very few trainers of small stables are willing to do.
    98% of small stable trainers train 7 or less horses but have no outside income to support their expenses.
    This is a rich mans game and if you want to play ( that includes training for a living) you need to have resources to support your “dream” The backstretches all over the country are filled with trainers can’t can’t afford to be in the game. If you want to train for yourself you are going into business for yourself. Any business requires working capital and cash flow. Hopefully winning a race and cashing a ticket is not working capital or cash flow.
    i wish Mr. Grant all the success he deserves.

  • Delrene

    This is such a wonderful uplifting story of a dedicated trainer and his stable. Watching this race live streaming was just wonderful Being from the West Coast and watching these horses in the paddock and walking ring, there was something I immediately liked about Green Gratto. Congratulations to all who love and care for him. He ran an incredible race. He is also a pretty darn good looking horse. I hope Mr. Grant has much success in the future. It’s easy to see how much he loves his horse.

  • Erin Casseday

    What a nice story! Thank you!

  • ctgreyhound

    Sometimes the best gifts come in big packages.

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