Dr. John K. Griggs, a highly respected steeplechase horseman and equine veterinarian, died Wednesday, Oct. 19, at his farm north of Lexington, Ky. He was 84.
He is best known as the owner and trainer of Warm Spell, a multiple stakes winner who won the 1994 Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse.
A son of the prominent jumps sire Northern Baby, Warm Spell won that year’s Breeders’ Cup Grand National as well as Saratoga’s A.P. Smithwick Memorial and the Atlanta Cup, now known as the Georgia Cup.
The previous year, Warm Spell had won the Temple Gwathmey and New York Turf Writers Cup. In National Steeplechase Association competition, Warm Spell earned $457,964.
On his farm astride the Fayette-Bourbon County border, Dr. Griggs also trained Steve Canyon, winner of the 1988 Iroquois Steeplechase and a two-time winner of Louisville’s Bolla Hard Scuffle Steeplechase, and 1981 Hard Scuffle winner Daddy Dumpling.
He continued his involvement in steeplechase racing through last year, when he had three horses in training.
A Tennessee native, he was attended the University of Tennessee and obtained his veterinary degree from Auburn University. After military service in the Air Force, he settled in Lexington in 1958 and practiced until his retirement.
He was a life member of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and an advocate opposed to horse slaughter through Veterinarians for Equine Welfare.
He is survived by his wife, Linda Falcione Griggs; children Miles Henry Griggs, Emily Clayre Griggs, Mary Laura Griggs, J. Kirk (Cathie) Griggs II, Allen Neil (Pam) Griggs, and Erritt Hill (Sherry) Griggs; and five grandchildren, Emily Annie Griggs, Jonathan Griggs, R. Turner White, Martha Laurence White, and Emily Claire Griggs.
A memorial service and visitation will be held at Fasig-Tipton Co.’s Newtown Paddocks, 2400 Newtown Pike, Lexington, on Sunday, Oct. 30, from 2-4:30 p.m.