Hero: Genuine Risk

Genuine Risk - Derby FinishI lament that I did not get this post up here in a timely fashion. A great horse passed from our midst last Monday, August 18th. Genuine Risk passed away quietly in her old age out in her paddock at Newstead Farm near Upperville Virginia. She was a true champion athlete, beating not only fillies, but famously beating the boys in the 106th running of the Kentucky Derby back in 1980.

She raced for three years, have a total of fifteen starts, always finishing in the money. During her three-year old campaign, she was not originally pointed to the Kentucky Derby. However, as date neared with no clear favorite and test against the boys that she easily won, it was decided to go ahead and run her. She ran in the derby, winning with a clear victory despite going off at 13 to 1 odds, becoming on the second filly to have done so. * Furthermore, the last 1/4 of the run was the second fastest time ever at 23 flat, behind only that of the great Secretariat.

That was back at a time when derby day meant going fishing down on the creek bank and listening the call of the races on the radio. I remember vividly all the excitement that a girl horse had won, the first time since 1915. There was an excitement beyond that of which is normally found already with the derby.

She went on to run both the Preakness and Belmont, taking second place in both of those. It was worth noting that the Preakness had a formal complaint of interference lodged against Codex, the winning horse, alleging that he bumped/cutoff Genuine Risk down the stretch. Despite this, the finish stood, even through an appeal. The Belmont saw neither Codex or Genuine Risk win, largely due the very muddy track favoring Temperance Hill. The fact that she finished in the money in all three legs of the Triple Crown still makes her the only filly to have ever done such a feat.

One would think with her apparent ability she would have had several offspring that would have shown up in the racing world, especially over the first sixteen years or so after she retired. It was not for a lack of trying. Her first breeding attempt was a mating with Secretariat, a Triple Crown winner. What an amazing story and reputation that horse would have had to live up too, given that both parents were Kentucky Derby winners and had such speed even at the end of the distance. What a horse that could have possibly been. Maybe the pressure was too much, maybe such greatness was just not meant to be, regardless, the foal was stillborn. She carried to successful term only two offspring, neither of which ever raced.

Rest in Peace

Video of her Kentucky Derby trip that is just inspiring:

* – Note: A 3rd filly won the Kentucky Derby since, Winning Colors, who also passed away not long ago.

3 Replies to “Hero: Genuine Risk”

  1. I grew up in louisville about 5 miles from churchill downs. I always loved the horse racing and we had horses at home and would ride in iroquois park . Genuine risk was an awesome filly.

  2. Now I have to be curious about a couple of things. First, do they still allow riding in Iroquois Park? Two, where in Louisville, generally, as an ex-wife of many years ago grew up in Old Louisville, a few blocks over from St. James Court. I have never been to the Derby properly, but I love Churchill Downs – even with it location and as beautiful as Keeneland is I like Churchill more, I am guessing it is the history and deeper tradition that draws me.

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