Genuine Risk may not run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17. The Belmont comes up three weeks after the Preakness and if the first filly in 65 years to win the Kentucky Derby isn't strong enough to handle the full Triple Crown schedule, she is likely to skip the Preakness in favor of the Belmont. Her owner, Diana Firestone, said so this morning.
"I think so," Mrs. Firestone said when asked if she would choose the 1 1/2-mile Belmont over the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. "Just from her pedigree, I'd say the Belmont."
Genuine Risk will be shipped to her New York barn Monday and will gallop Thursday or Friday. "We'll see how she does," said Mrs. Firestone, who, with her husband Bert, owns Catoctin Stud at Waterford, Va. "It might be tough to run her back in two weeks. We'll see what she says."
Such news is unsettling to Chick Lang, the major domo at Pimlico. With a black-eyed susan in his lapel, Lang accompanied daybreak to the backside of Churchill Downs this morning for his annual small talk with the Derby winner.
Lang met the Firestones as they alighted from their car near Barn 42.
"I asked if they were coming our way for hard crabs and oysters," Lang said. "And I said, 'I'm not going to ask you the question that everyone is going to ask.' And then I asked them, anyway. 'Are you coming to the Preakness?'
"They said they'll answer in a few days."
Land is hoping.
"The Firestones are sportsmen," he said. "If they weren't, they wouldn't have run in the Derby, they wouldn't have run a filly against colts. They didn't tell me they would come to Pimlico and they didn't tell me they wouldn't, but I believe Genuine Risk will come. She came out of the Derby clean."
Not only was the glorious chestnut filly uninjured, she was alert and frisky, as if she had done nothing more strenuous than a stroll in the park on Derby Day.
"She looks great," Mrs. Firestone said. "She's on her toes. A siren went off near here at 7:30 this morning and she came bouncing out of her stall to look."
Right after the race Saturday, less than two hours after Genuine Risk had left a dozen supposedly stronger colts gasping in her wake, trainer LeRoy Jolley said the filly was not nearly as tired as she had been after the Wood Memorial two weeks earlier.
"Her race before the Wood had been very dull -- it did nothing for her -- so I trained her hard," Jolley said. "Then the Wood was a funny kind of a race in which she had to force the pace all the way and she was dead tired afterward."
As for the Preakness, Jolley said, "We'll see some new faces between now and then, and we'll just have to evaluate them."
Bert Firestone said he, his wife and Jolley will talk over the next step in Genuine Risk's schedule.
"If there are two races, one for fillies and the other the Preakness, I'd have to evaluate them and see where she could win," Firestone said.
Some new contenders, the best being Codex, are likely starters in the Preakness. Jaklin Klugman, third in the Derby, will be at Pimlico but the runner-up Rumbo, has announced for a race in California.
In years past when an owner equivocated about running in the Preakness or Belmont, he was subjected to heavy pressures to complete the classic cycle -- if not for the good of the game, then for his bankroll. With each good race, the colt's value at stud increased.
Genuine Risk's future is as a mommy, not a daddy, and while a stallion can turn out 400 offspring in his lifetime, a broodmare is doing well with eight or 10 kids. "We're not going to sell her anyway," Firestone said. "So she doesn't have any value to increase."
Firestone admits the idea of a Triple Crown for Genuine Risk is fascinating.
"Nothing would make me happier than to win the Triple Crown with a filly," he said, effervesence overcoming his normal reserve. "That would be history. No one has ever done it."
Quickly cautious again, Firestone added, "But I wouldn't want to go into a race hoping a miracle would make us win. If I thought she had a very good chance to win the Preakness, I would run her there. If I thought she had a very good chance to win the Mother Goose (at Belmont June 8, the day after the Belmont Stakes), I'd run her there. It just depends on where we have the best chance to win."
Lang, in that case, might attach wheels to Genuine Risk's hooves in order to assure her victory at Pimlico. The filly's presence would be big box office.
"You want the Derby winner in your race," the Preakness boss said. "You have Codex coming from the West Coast. Jaklin Klugman adds the whip cream and cherry on top with Jack Klugman coming along. Plugged Nickle did nothing here (seventh) but he won the Laurel Futurity at our place, which shows he likes the track. And Col. Moran will run, too. He's a speed horse, so we won't have the slow pace of the Derby."
A filly last ran in the Preakness in 1939 when Ciencia finished last.Nellie Morse in 1924 was the last filly to win the Preakness.
They took pictures of Genuine Risk this morning. Tony Leonard, whose thoroughbred portraits hang as works of art throughout bluegrass country, moved Genuine Risk into the bright sunlight. Her red coat fairly glowed. As Leonard shot pictures, the filly lifted her fine head and stood stock still.
It was not vanity, Leonard said, that caused Genuine Risk to pose so nicely. Leonard's assistant stood off to one side with a tape recorder.
"I just walked a mare past the stallions, and recorded their whinnying," Leonard said."I have 45 seconds of studs going bananas."
Small wonder the lady paid attention.