Franklin N. Groves, who enjoyed tremendous success in the commercial sales arena and on the racetrack with his North Ridge Farm operation, died Feb. 12 in Minneapolis, Minn., according to family and friends. He was 87.
Groves and his late wife Carolyn, who passed away five years ago almost to the day, bought North Ridge in 1975. They became leading commercial breeders and yearling consignors at Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland, and won an Eclipse Award as outstanding breeder in North America in 1989. North Ridge Farm bred more than 65 stakes winners including champions Capote and Blushing John and grade 1 winners Tsunami Slew, Ruhlmann, Sabona, and Latin American.
After North Ridge was sold in 1990 to Kenneth T. Jones Jr., the Groves bought a 112-acre farm outside Lexington where Thoroughbred legend Man o' War stood his last 11 years at stud and where he was originally buried. They renamed the farm Man o' War Farm.
"He really changed the focus of the Thoroughbred commercial market," said Shannon Wolfram, the Groves' longtime farm manager. "He owned a wide range of mares, but he showed that focusing on the top of the market with high-class mares could be profitable."
Before getting into Thoroughbred breeding and racing, Groves' family was renowned in the heavy construction industry through S. J. Groves & Sons, an international company founded in 1905 by Stephen J. Groves in Minneapolis. The company became the largest road builder in America by the 1970s and was involved worldwide in highway, bridge, dam, and airfield projects.
Franklin and Carolyn Groves also developed a nationally prominent Saddlebred show stable and leading breeding farms for American Saddlebreds in Minnesota and Kentucky in the 1970s and '80s.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home, 5000 W. 50th St., Edina, Minn.