Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 39 Days to Go!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 39 Days to Go!

Genuine Risk, or “Genny” as she was nicknamed, would become only the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby, 65 years after the 1915 heroine, Regret, as well as the first to contest the race since Silver Spoon finished fifth in 1959. Bred in Kentucky by Mrs. G. Watts Humphrey, Genuine Risk was by Exclusive Native, the sire of  1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed. Out of the Gallant Man mare, Virtuous, the chestnut filly was sold as a yearling for $32,000 at the Fasig-Tipton auction to Bertram and Diana Firestone, after being picked out by their young son, Matthew. The filly would race in the green and white silks of Diana, as all of the Firestone’s fillies did.

Sent to trainer LeRoy Jolley, the filly named due to her “genuine” breeding, along with the “risk” in buying a yearling, won the Tempted Stakes, in addition to the Demoiselle, in which she would defeat the 2YO filly champion, Smart Angle. At three, Genuine Risk would take on the boys in the Wood Memorial prior to her start in the Kentucky Derby. The chestnut filly came into the race with six consecutive victories (four at the age of two), all from 6 ½-furlongs to a mile and 1/8th, over good to sloppy tracks, with wins at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Gulfstream. She finished a good third despite being cut off and having to check twice, after which Jolley voiced his indecision about taking on the Kentucky Derby. However, the Firestone’s overruled his decision, leading to her shipping to Churchill.

The Derby would have a field of 13 horses, with Genuine Risk going off at 13-1.  Jockey Jacinto Vasquez piloted the chestnut contender, keeping her off of the lead throughout the race, settling behind the leaders until they reached the top of the stretch. At that point the filly took command with a quarter mile left to run. Unchallenged, the Firestone color-bearer glided under the wire a length in front, in a time of 2:02 over the fast track. Her victory would earn her the blanket of roses, while becoming a media darling. In the Preakness, Genuine Risk would finish 2nd in a controversial finish that even made its way to the courtroom. Codex and jockey Angel Cordero, Jr. would drift Genuine Risk out just as she was starting to make her challenge. After going wide, Cordero and Codex would duck back in, going on to win by 4 ¾ lengths. Genuine Risk’s jockey, Jacinto Vasquez, would claim foul, even saying that Cordero had hit the filly over the head with his crop. The stewards would let the result stand, allowing Codex the victory, giving D. Wayne Lukas his first Triple Crown training victory. The Firestone’s would challenge the outcome, and after deliberation, the Maryland Racing Commission would let the result stand.

The publicity from the Preakness outcome would make the public interested in the Belmont rematch. The outcome wasn’t much of a rematch, as Genuine Risk would again finish second, this time to Temperence Hill, while Codex finished 7th. The game filly was the first to take on the three Triple Crown races, with a victory and two seconds. Coming down with a virus after the Belmont, Genuine Risk was given three months off to rest. She returned to the races in September, finishing 2nd in the Maskette to Bold N’ Determined. She would earn the 3YO Filly Championship after defeating top older mare and six-time stakes winner, Misty Galore, in the Ruffian Handicap.

At four, she won an allowance in April along with a third place finish over the grass in May. Prepping to go against the males in the Woodward, Genuine Risk would finish first in an allowance in September; however during her training after the race she didn’t seem herself. The Firestone’s decided to retire her before the Woodward. She ended her racing career with a record of 10 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds out of 15 races, never finishing out of the money.

As a broodmare, Genuine Risk was first bred to Secretariat, making it the first time a Derby winner was bred to another, although the foal was stillborn. She had many unsuccessful breeding’s until 1993 when her colt by Rahy survived. Named Genuine Reward, the colt wouldn’t make it to the track, yet he did become a sire. He would also be bred to sire polo ponies while living in Wyoming. In 2015, the stallion was sent to Old Friends in Kentucky to spend his days. Genuine Risk’s only other surviving offspring was a 1996 Chief Honcho colt named Count Our Blessing. Not showing promise enough to make it to the track, the colt was gelded and turned into a show horse. Genuine Risk lived to the age of 31, passing away peacefully in 2008 at the Firestone’s Newstead Farm in Virginia.

(Photo of Genuine Risk with foal courtesy of KDM archives)

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum