Genuine Risk, one of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), died the morning of Aug. 18 in her paddock at Bertram and Diana Firestone’s Newstead Farm near Upperville, Va. The 31-year-old daughter of Exclusive Native was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner.
“Genuine Risk was an amazing horse with tremendous heart that lived a life befitting a champion,” the Firestones said in a prepared statement. “We are truly blessed that she was a part of our life, and we are deeply saddened by her passing.”
Campaigned by Diana Firestone and trained by LeRoy Jolley, Genuine Risk became the first filly winner of the Kentucky Derby since Regret in 1915 when she trounced males at 13-1 in the 1980 running. Back two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Genuine Risk finished second as the 2-1 favorite to Codex in a roughly run race. Her rider, Jacinto Vasquez, claimed foul, but the stewards allowed the finish to stand.
Those two were back for Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but it was longshot Temperence Hill who found the muddy track to his liking. Genuine Risk finished a solid second while Codex ran seventh as the favorite.
Genuine Risk raced twice more that year, winning the Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) in the fall, and was voted an Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old filly. After a 4-year-old season during which she raced just three times, she was retired to become a broodmare for the Firestones. She won or placed in all 15 starts and earned $646,587.
Genuine Risk’s career as a broodmare was as puzzling as it was disappointing. Bred until the year 2000, she produced just two named foals, both of which failed to race.
Bred in Kentucky by Sally Humphrey, Genuine Risk was bought by the Firestones’ son, Matthew, for $32,000 at the 1978 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky summer yearling sale. She was produced from the Gallant Man mare Virtuous.
Genuine Risk was elected to National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1986.
Her death came several months after the death of the last Derby-winning filly, Winning Colors.
To read more about Genuine Risk, check out Hallie McEvoy’s best-selling book, Genuine Risk: Thoroughbred Legends #20.