Genuine Risk, pictured at age 30, was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner. She was living at the Newstead Farm in Upperville, Va. when she died.
Image: Carol T. Powers for The New York Times.
The bright chestnut filly named Genuine Risk thrilled me when she won the Kentucky Derby in 1980 with commanding style. Not only did she win, but she ran the last quarter mile of the race faster than any other horse ever had, except the amazing Secretariat, who went on to win the Triple Crown of American horseracing in 1973.
This morning, Genuine Risk, who was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner, died at the ripe old age of 31. [Video of Genuine Risk’s Kentucky Derby victory is below the fold; 2:45].
“Genuine Risk was an amazing horse with tremendous heart that lived a life befitting a champion,” owners Bertram and Diane Firestone said in a statement issued by the farm. “We are truly blessed that she was a part of our life and we are deeply saddened by her passing.”
In addition to being recognized as one of the top fillies in American horseracing, Genuine Risk was a genuine champion. She raced 15 times and never was worse than third. She won 10 races, second 3 times and was third twice. She won the Eclipse Award as the 3-year-old filly champion and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1986.
Genuine Risk was retired as a four-year-old in 1981 after a freak accident. She got loose at Belmont Park and ran into a fire hydrant, which damaged her left knee — an injury that ended her racing career.
After she retired, it was widely anticipated that Genuine Risk would pass her considerable talents on to her offspring. She was even bred to Secretariat twice — the first time that two Kentucky Derby winners had ever been bred — but delivered a stillborn foal, a colt, in 1983, and delivered a second stillborn Secretariat foal in 1984. To everyone’s great disappointment, it took 11 years for Genuine Risk to produce a live foal, a colt named Genuine Reward. Unfortunately, he had no racing ability, so he was sent to a stud farm in Wyoming where he sires polo ponies.
Three years later in 1996, Genuine Risk produced her only other living foal, named Count Our Blessing, but he also lacked racing ability and was gelded before being trained as a showhorse.
Genuine Risk was retired from breeding four years later in 2000. However, she retained her usefulness: she was often called upon to act as a babysitter for young racing filles that had recently been retired from the track. She spent her days grazing in a lush paddock, usually in the company of another mare, and was doted over by her owners, the Firestones, and the farm staff. She was fed as many peppermints as she wanted and her favorite treat was Tic Tacs.
Genuine Risk died “peacefully” in her paddock around 730 in the morning after eating “a hearty breakfast”. She had not been ill.
Genuine Risk was the daughter of Exclusive Native and Virtuous (by Gallant Man). Genuine Risk was only the second filly to ever win the Kentucky Derby (Regret won in 1915, and Winning Colors won in 1988) and she was the only filly in history to finish either first or second in all the Triple Crown races.
Good night, Genuine Risk, and thank you for the memories.