genuine riskGenuine Risk pictured last year at Newstead Farm, at age 30
(New York Times)

Up until three years ago, the oldest living American Classic winner was Summerhill resident sire, Coastal. While he was a formidable athlete in his own right, Coastal was always remembered for the fact that he ruined the Triple Crown aspirations of one of the greatest American racehorses of all-time, Spectacular Bid, when he rolled home by an increasing three lengths in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes in 1979. Coastal lived to the ripe old age of 30, and he occupies a place of considerable reverence here at Summerhill.

His successor to the mantle of the oldest living American Classic winner passed to, perhaps surprising, a filly who’d outsmarted the colts in the 1980 renewal of the jewel in the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby. Her name was Genuine Risk, who died yesterday at the ripe old age of 31 (around 120 years in human terms). No doubt contributing to her longevity was the fact that in all her years at stud, she produced only one living foal.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reported; “She tried to get up once or twice and then just put her head down and went to sleep”, former owner Bert Firestone said. “It’s a good way for a horse to go. She had a great life. From the time I got her, I don’t ever remember her being sick a day in her life”. Foaled in 1977, the Kentucky-bred mare was purchased for just $32 000 as a FTKJUL yearling. She captured the Gr.2 Demoiselle Stakes and the Tempted Stakes at two, but proved she belonged with the best colts of her generation the following season.

The chestnut finished third in the Gr.1 Wood Memorial Stakes, then stepped it up a level to become just the second of her sex to wear the blanket of roses on the first Saturday in May. Durable as well as talented, she went on to finish second in the Gr.1 Preakness Stakes and Gr.1 Belmont Stakes, and capped off the season with a victory against her own sex in the  Gr.1 Ruffian Handicap.

“She was a wonderful and outstanding filly; everyone fell in love with her” recalled trainer LeRoy Jolley. “She had a place in everyone’s heart. Everyone involved with her took care of her up to the end. She was special to all of us”. In a statement, the Firestones said, “Genuine Risk was an amazing horse with a tremendous heart that lived a life befitting a champion. We are truly blessed that she was a part of our life, and we are deeply saddened by her passing”.

Bred by Mrs. G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Genuine Risk retired with a record of 15-10-3-2 and earnings of $646,587. She produced only two foals, both colts, neither of which raced.