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    Photo courtesy Genuine Risk's Facebook Page
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    Thirty-five years ago an attractive lady came to Louisville and took the city - and nation - by storm.

    No it wasn’t Bo Derek, Brooke Shields, Carrie Fisher or Catherine Bach (a.k.a. Daisy Duke), it was Genuine Risk. The thoroughbred racehorse became the second filly - and the first in 65 years - to win the Kentucky Derby.

    May 3, 1980 was a beautiful day at Churchill Downs. It was 72 degrees at post time of the 106th Derby.

    The favorite that day - which was nearly three weeks before the premiere of a little movie called The Empire Strikes Back - was Rockhill Native (2-1) while Plugged Nickle (5-2) was the second pick. Genuine Risk, the first filly to run for the roses in 21 years, was the fifth choice (also behind 4-1 Rumbo, 7-1 Jaklin Klugman and 8-1 Super Moment) at 13-1 in the 13-horse field. However, she was anything but a nag.

    The chestnut Kentucky-bred Genuine Risk had won her first six career starts, but was coming into the Derby fresh off a third-place finish (behind winner Plugged Nickle and Colonel Moran) in the Wood Memorial two weeks earlier.

    Starting from the 10 hole jockey Jacinto Vasquez, who had guided Foolish Pleasure to victory in the ‘75 Derby, settled Genuine Risk in behind Plugged Nickle and inside of long-shot Withholding. She sat seventh at the quarter-mile before Vasquez eased her back slightly and moved her to the outside approaching the half-mile. That’s when Genuine Risk made her move. She quickly gained ground on the leaders, running fourth at the three-quarter pole before taking over the lead entering the stretch. She was in command from there, holding off a rallying Rumbo and Jaklin Klugman, to become the first filly to win the Derby since Regret in 1915. Genuine Risk paid $28.60 to win, $10.60 to place and $4.80 to show.

    Genuine Risk went on to finish second in both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes to become the first filly to compete in all of the Triple Crown races. She raced two more times after the Belmont in 1980 and three times in ‘81 before being retired. Genuine Risk finished in the money in all 15 of her career starts with 10 wins, three seconds and two thirds to earn $646,587.

    Unfortunately her post-racing career as a broodmare wasn’t as prosperous.

    Her first mating was to Triple Crown winner Secretariat in 1982. Sadly the resulting foal, which would have been the first offspring of two Derby winners, was stillborn. The two horses bred again in 1983, but without success.

    Over the next 17 years Genuine Risk, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1986, produced only two living foals. She was retired from breeding in 2000 and died eight years later at the age of 31.

    However, she’ll always be remembered for her great May day at Churchill Downs 35 years ago.

    Photo courtesy Genuine Risk's Facebook Page

     

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