Even though she made history when she won the Kentucky Derby, Genuine Risk has not been getting much respect as she prepares for Saturday's Preakness.
Derby winners are customarily lionized and compared with the great horses of the past when they come to Pimlico. But not Genuine Risk. Racing fans are still so preoccupied with the novel fact that she is a female, they haven't even bothered to considedr whether she is an exceptionally good racehorse.
Among the 80,000 spectators Saturday, there will be widespread skepticism that she is. While even fluky Derby winners are almost automatically favored in the Preakness, the Daily Racing Form's oddsmakers predict the filly will be a mere third choice in that wagering behind two new challengers, Codex and Colonel Moran.
Yet there is ample evidence to suggest that Genuine Risk is, in fact, one of the better Derby winners to come to Pimlico. Her time at Churchill Downs was very respectable. And her overall record is impeccable: she has been beaten only once in eight career starts.
Her trainer, LeRoy Jolley, who has trained a number of top-class 3-year-old colts in recent years, talked about Genuine Risk before the Derby as if she were a member of a distinctly weaker sex, but he seems to have gained a great new respect for her. d
"I think Genuine Risk is somewhat deceiving," Jolley said today. "She's smaller and lighter, but I think that she has the same rugged determination that Foolish Pleasure did. I don't think I've ever had a horse who tries harder. And she's got a disposition like Afffirmed. She's got the greatest temperament of any horse I've ever been around."
Genuine Risk was only the second filly in history to win the Derby. Saturday, she could become the fifth member of her sex to win the Preakness in 105 runnings, the first to do it since Nellie Morse in 1924, and the first ever to win two legs of the Triple Crown.
Six colts and one gelding will try to stop her and collect the winner's share of the $250,000 Preakness purse. Three of them are solid contenders in what Pimlico General Manager Chick Lang calls "the most compettive Preakness since I've been here." Codex, Colonel Moran and Jaklin Klugman all have the credentials to win this race."
Codex may be an even more gifted runner than Genuine Risk. Trainer Wayne Lukas had not thought enough of the colt to nominate him for the Kentucky Derby by the Feb. 15 deadline, but he blossomed after that, winning the West Coast's major 3-year-old stakes races. He scored with authority over Rumbo and Jacklin Klugman, who subsequently ran second and third in the Derby.
But if Genuine Risk is the victim of sexual prejudice. And it may be well-founded. Codex has never had so much as a workout outside of the state of California, and the transition to Eastern racing has undone many superior horses.
"We've got some ifs," Lukas conceded. We had a 12-hour trip here. The horse has to adjust to new feed, new surroundings, a new race track." Coming from the hard Western tracks to the deeper Eastern tracks, he said "is as if you've been training over a Tartan surface and how you're running a couple miles on the beach. You have to use muscles you never used before. By coming to the Preakness, we're taking a calculated risk -- but not a genuine risk."
Jaklin Klugman, co-owned by actor Jack Klugman of "Quincy" and "the Odd Couple" fame, wasn't considered a formidable contender when he ran at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. But he lost by only two lengths, after looking for a moment as if he were goin to win it all. The shorter Preakness distance -- a mile and three-six-teenths -- should be in his favor Saturday.
Colonel Moran defeated Genuine Risk in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, then won last week's Withers Mile in smashing fashion.He could provide solace for trainer Tom J. Kelly, whose colt, Plugged Nickle, had been one of the favorites in the Derby but ran a disappointing seventh.
Kelly got his introduction to racing by sneaking into Pimlico when he was a Baltimore schoolboy, and he says, "Winning the Preakness would be the greatest achievement of my life."
He pins his hopes on the fact that Colonel Moran has high early speed and the Preakness has historically been a race that favors special horses. But Colonel Moran may have an unexpectedly difficult time taking the early lead. Knight Landing, a 50-to-1 shot who drew the inside post, may keep Colonel Moran fromt getting to the front.
Knight Landing is the only one of the other entrants likely to have any impact on the Preakness. Samoyed, a decent colt, is overmatched here, Bing and Lucky Pluck don't belong in the race at all.
Bing, who is winless in eight starts, qualified as the worst Preakness entrant in years until Lucky Pluck came here from Churchill Downs. The two of them may stimulate some spirited betting on who will finish last, but smart money is on Lucky Pluck.