Born in 1974 in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, to Dave and Terri Forster, Grant has been around horses and the racing game throughout his life. Dave, a trainer based at Hastings Park Race Course in Vancouver, is a member of the British Columbia Racing Hall of Fame and has been nominee for induction several times to the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame. Terri, the daughter of a leading British Columbia breeder, Al McLean, and sister to Washington/Northern California trainer Bill McLean, has worked with Dave to establish the leading stakes-winning stable of all time at Hastings Park.
Grant grew up working on the family farm with the horses from just about the time he could walk. When he was old enough he worked as a hotwalker at the Hastings Park barn during summers off from school. At the age of 15, he began working for the Hastings Park track and barn maintenance department after school and on weekends and continued through his first few years of college. This job gave Grant a very good understanding of track surfaces and the maintenance involved as well as the relationship between horsemen and track management.
In 1996, Grant headed for the sunny climes of Tucson to attend the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program with an eye towards pursuing a career in track management. Upon graduating in December of 1997 he took a job with the burgeoning Seattle-area track, Emerald Downs, in their media relations department. Grant worked closely with all areas of the marketing department including publicity, television production, promotions and customer service. While Grant enjoyed his time there he longed to get back to working with the horses and being a participant rather than a spectator.
In 2000 he went back to work for the family stable, which had expanded in the previous years to include a growing string at Emerald Downs, as a groom. Dave told him he needed to start back at the bottom. Grant would go on to move his way up to Assistant Trainer and in 2003 he took out his own trainer’s license and started Team Forster. Success was immediate as he scored with his first runner, Preamble, at Oaklawn Park for owner Janis Whitham. That summer he returned to Emerald Downs and was the leading trainer by purse earnings and stakes wins. The stakes wins included a 4-for-4 all stakes campaign for Herman Sarkowsky’s homebred Youcan’ttakeme that culminated with her win in the $100k Washington Oaks and subsequently being named the Horse of the Meeting at Emerald Downs for 2003. Later that Fall at Churchill Downs Grant was named the Porcini’s Trainer of the Week after winning four two-year-old races over five racing days.
Over the next few years Grant spent winters at Oaklawn and split the stable in the summers between Arlington Park and Emerald Downs. The stakes wins continued. He won the Washington Oaks a second and third consecutive time with Bianconi Baby and A Classic Life, becoming the first trainer to win the race in three consecutive years. He won stakes at Arlington Park with Rugula (who was also a runner-up to Breeders’ Cup winner Round Pond in both the Honeybee and Fantasy(G3) Stakes at Oaklawn) and with Lucky Pulpit (sire of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome). In 2005, Grant secured his graded win in the Pacific Northwest’s storied signature race, The Longacres Mile (G3). Once again with a Herman Sarkowsky homebred, Grant shocked the racing fans with a 60-1 upset by No Giveaway. In doing so he became one of the youngest winning trainers of the famed race and gave Sarkowsky, a Breeders’ Cup winner with Phone Chatter among his other major triumphs, “my greatest thrill in racing.”
In 2007, Grant developed Brother Bobby into a top handicap horse as he placed second in both the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) (to subsequent champion older male Lawyer Ron) and the Phillip H. Iselin Handicap (G3). At the end of 2007, Grant informed his Western clients he wanted to focus solely on racing in the Midwest and East Coast.
While the stable downsized due to the move, Grant continued to develop stakes runners and special performances, highlighted by Exotic Indy’s win in the Omnibus Stakes at Monmouth Park and Mandurah setting a world record for one mile on the grass of 1:31.23, also at Monmouth, which stands to this day.
Another success story is that of Brushed By A Star, a $10,000 yearling purchase by Dave who Grant developed into a multiple Grade 2 winner. After an up and down three-year-old season that included an 11-length allowance triumph in the Fall at Churchill Downs Grant gave the filly an old fashioned winter break at Lambholm South Farm in Ocala, Florida. It was just what the doctor ordered for the long-striding daughter of Eddington as she matured and had a wonderful season at four that built up from an allowance win over males at Churchill to her first stakes win in the $100k Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. Next came her first graded score in the esteemed Molly Pitcher (G2) at Monmouth Park on Haskell Invitational day. A fifth in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga was followed by a second in the Mari-Hulman George Stakes at Hoosier Park before she again found graded glory with a nose decision over Joyful Victory in the Chilukki Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. To complete the success story for Brushed By A Star’s multiple owners the filly was sold two days after the Chilukki win at Fasig-Tipton’s Fall Stars Sale for $400,000.
The stable’s first winter at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans saw more stakes success. The highlight was Warm Breeze’s narrow victory in the Happy Ticket Stakes. It was her second straight win, following a quick allowance victory, and saw her earn a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for the score. Warm Breeze earned her first graded placing with a good third in the Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs on Memorial Day. Katie’s Eyes, a three-year-old filly earned a facile victory in the South Mississippi Owners and Breeders Stakes at Fair Grounds and parlayed that into a next-out third in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park in just her third start. She then went on to finish a close third in the Beaumont (G2) at Keeneland. Finally, the six-year-old Positive Side started his year off in New Orleans earning his first bit of black type with a bang-up second in the Colonel Powers Stakes to the very accomplished Gantry. It was Positive Side’s first foray ever in a grass sprint. He appears to have found his best game as he has gone on to finish second, beaten a diminishing neck in the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland, third in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) at Churchill and another second in the Arlington Sprint (L) at Arlington Park, all sprints on the turf.
As you can see Grant has a knack for developing young horses into stakes winners. Known for his patience and his individualized training schedules, he has won or placed in stakes at Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Emerald Downs, Fair Grounds Race Course, Hastings Race Course, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Park, Hoosier Park, Keeneland, Monmouth Park, Mountaineer Park, Oaklawn, Prairie Meadows and Turfway Park. His stakes wins range from 5 furlongs on the grass to 1 3/8 miles on the dirt.
“I love the challenge of getting a new horse, whether it be a two-year-old coming in from the farm or a recent claim or private purchase”, explained Grant. ”Finding out what it’s going to take to make that horse be successful is what’s fun for me. What is their personality? What do they like? What troubles them? I think the goal is to find out what the horse does best, whether it’s sprinting on the grass or routing on the dirt, and doing that as many times as possible.”
“It’s my job to tailor the horse’s training schedule to make that horse be as happy and confident as possible. It’s important to understand what happened the previous day and all the days before that. And each horse needs something different based on where you’re heading. I continually tell my riders ‘let the horse do what it feels like today.’ Only the horse knows how it’s feeling. Maybe it’s up for a big strong gallop. Maybe it’s not feeling 100% and wants to take it a little easier today. The emphasis is on letting the horse do what it feels comfortable with each time on the track. At the end of the day I hope people can see and appreciate that.”
With Grant’s background in media relations he has been an excellent spokesman for his profession. He has talked with groups at places like the Tyee Club, the University of Washington’s famed fundraising group, as well as numerous senior living facilities and morning workout shows. He has also done countless radio and television interviews and been featured in articles in publications like Sunset Magazine. Grant is always willing to do his part to help promote the sport in a positive way.
Team Forster is currently based at Churchill Downs in Barn 24 and will be stabled there until the end of November when plans are to return to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans for the winter months.
Jim has been in the racing business for nearly forty years from working in the stables to racetrack management and bloodstock sales. His career began at Longacres as a groom for Marion “Million Dollar” Smith and transitioned into Jim Hawley Bloodstock Agency in 1980. His first client purchase turned out to be Washington Champion Colonel Stevens who went on to be one of the greatest sires in State history. Northwest stakes horses Prints Charming, Stitch an a Half, Marketal, and New Broom were also among the successful horses he purchased. After Longacres closed Jim began a career in transportation management which led him back to the track when Emerald Downs opened in 1996. As a Director he had numerous responsibilities throughout the company including the race office and other wide ranging areas. This is where he met Grant Forster who had come to work in the publicity department. Grant and Jim joined forces in 2007 to form Team Forster, LLC. Jim and wife Kathy continue to reside in Washington and manage the business side of Team Forster from there with numerous trips to tracks around the country.
Medical Technologist (ASCP)
Kathy has also been involved in the racing business as well as guiding daughter Talia through many years of riding lessons and 4-H. Her career, however, has been as a Medical Technologist for a top Seattle area laboratory for 35 years. Kathy’s knowledge and understanding of clinical lab tests and medical procedures helps give Team Forster insight into equine biology. Kathy and Jim have also spent many years studying equine nutrition and have worked with Grant to develop a state of the art feed program.
Wayne has been with the Team since 2002. He received his photography training at Bellevue Community College and his goal is to present images that tell a story. Wayne is an avid horse racing fan and owner with his wife Ellen. He currently does freelance work for Emerald Downs as well as for Team Forster.