Genuine Risk: When the Lady Became the Champ

April 26, 2019

By Geo Sette

Our Man Geo

“The dynamic Filly Genuine Risk emerges victorious in the 1980 Kentucky Derby!”

I remember it like yesterday. Sure I was living life at the tender age of 17, but as a teenager growing up in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn, I lived my life in High School, playing baseball and following the Sport of Kings.

I wasn’t one of the 135,000+ people in attendance that day at Churchill Downs, but I reserved the only Sette household television, and watched it live on ABC, which at the time without cable, was the network covering the Triple Crown, just as they aired the “Wide World Of Sports”  every Saturday throughout the year.

Genuine Risk, was a simply gorgeous filly sporting a coat that was worthy of Hollywood beauty. Sired by Exclusive Native, Grand Sire Raise A Native, and Dam  Virtuous, with the Dam Sire Gallant Fox.

This chestnut mare was trained by LeRoy Jolley, who back in the day was a formidable trainer throughout the New York Racing circuit. She was ridden by Jacinto Vasquez, who was one of my favorites sporting silks back at that time. He also rode the great Ruffian and won another Kentucky Derby for Jolley aboard Foolish Pleasure. 

Genuine Risk was basically ignored at the windows. Most experts knew that a Filly had not raced in the Derby in 21 years, and hadn’t won in 65 years, since Regret the filly who won in 1915.

She was facing some powerful colts, including Jaklin Klugman, owned by Jack Klugman who starred in the famed “The Odd Couple” series, Rockhill Native and Rumbo who was ridden by racing legend Laffit Pincay Jr.

Indeed, it was a Hollywood type setting. Genuine Risk showed that with tremendous heart, and a strong confident ride, she could prove countless non-believers wrong.

The race speaks for itself.

Here’s the famed video and race call by the incomparable Dave Johnson  who passionately called his trademark “And down the stretch they come.” Additionally another part of history is Howard Cosell, who had one of the most recognizable voices ever to call professional sports, introduces Dave Johnson to call the race.

I still get goosebumps every single time I watch this, volume up and click below:

What a race, and yes, what a sensational filly. She proved that that all things are forever possible, even when some felt she was up against it. She ran away from her biggest threats Jacklin Klugman and Rumbo cashing tickets at 12-1 odds and a $26.00+ mutual.

Two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes, she seemed poised to win as she was turning for home, but she was carried wide and intimidated by the eventual winner Codex, ridden by famed Jockey Angel Cordero Jr., in one of the most controversial finishes in racing history. It was also D. Wayne Lukas’ first classic win. 

Genuine Risk was inducted into Racings Hall of Fame 6 years later in 1986. She lived a wonderfully peaceful life until she passed away during the Saratoga summer meet in August 2008 at the age of 31.

Then just two years later Winning Colors became the 3rd filly to win the Kentucky Derby, delightfully covered with a bed of Roses in 1988.

We are not blessed with any fillies in this year’s Run for the Roses. Someday down the road, perhaps sooner than we all think, there will be another dynamic filly who will face the boys and take her shot at racing history.

I’m certainly hoping to witness it again.

Stay tuned for my 2019 Kentucky Derby Handicapping Analysis which should be published a few days prior to the much anticipated 145th Running on the first Saturday in May.

~Georgio Sette

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