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On This Date in Sports May 3, 1980: The Lady is a Champ

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Bettors who take Genuine Risk get a great reward, as the horse ridden by Jacinto Vasquez becomes the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby. The filly was listed at 12-1 on derby day, gaining popular support. Genuine Risk was the second filly to win the run for the roses at Churchill Downs, behind Regret, who won the mile-and-a-quarter race in 1915. 

Rarely does a filly win enough to get an invite to the Kentucky Derby. Only 31 fillies have run in the world’s most famous horse race on the first Saturday in May. Regret was the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby in 1915. It would take 65 years before Genuine Risk became the second filly to win at Churchill Downs. Winning Colors made it a trio in 1988, but after the tragic loss of Eight Belles in the 2008 Kentucky Debry, rules were changed to make another Filly entering the race unlikely. 

Genuine Risk was a chestnut mare foaled on February 15, 1977. She was sired by Exclusive Name, one of the most successful sires in the history of Thoroughbred Racing. Two years before Genuine Risk, Exclusive Name bred Affirmed, who won the 1978 Triple Crown. 

Genuine Risk showed early promise, winning her maiden race at Belmont Park on September 30, 1979. She won her first seven races before finishing third in the Wood Memorial, two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Jacinto Vasquez had experience riding in fillies; he had ridden Ruffian through most of her career, including the tragic match race against Foolish Pleasure 1975. Vasquez had previously ridden Foolish Pleasure to victory at the 1975 Kentucky Debry. 

Rockhill Native had been the morning line favorite on derby day, but Genuine Risk was the sentimental choice, as 131,859 were in attendance to see if the filly could run with the boys. The filly that was trained by LeRoy Jolley proved to be more than worthy of her spot in the field as she came out of the eighth gate and ran the race in a time of 2:02 to beat Rumbo by a length, while Jaklin Klugman finished third. Rockhill Native, the 8-5 favorite, finished in fifth place.


Genuine Risk would become the first filly to compete in all three legs of the Kentucky Derby. She would finish second to Codex in the Preakness Stakes after being bumped down the final stretch. Genuine Risk also finished second to Temperance Hill in the Belmont Stakes. Winning Colors would later run all three races, finishing third in the Preakness Stakes and sixth in the Belmont Stakes in 1988. 

After retiring in 1981, attempts were made to mate Genuine Risk and Secretariat. However, the colt that would have been bred to two Kentucky Derby winners was stillborn.