By Mint Julep

Bertram & Diana Firestone Owner: One Kentucky Derby Winner

1980 kentucky derby winner genuine risk

Join us on an exciting journey through the impressive careers of Bertram and Diana Firestone, well-known owners and breeders in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing. Dive into their outstanding accomplishments, such as winning top races like the Kentucky Derby and Irish 2,000 Guineas Turf Classic. Explore their legacy of breeding excellence and global victories that have made a lasting impact on the equestrian and flat racing industries.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Bertram Robert Firestone was born on August 18, 1931. He started his career in industrial real estate development but later made a remarkable shift to the exciting world of Thoroughbred horse racing. Diana Melville Johnson Firestone, born on January 26, 1932, brought her family’s ties to Johnson & Johnson into their shared passion for horses. As a couple deeply fascinated by these majestic creatures, they became prominent owner/breeders within both equestrian and flat racing circles.

Their journey wasn’t just about success; it was also about forming a strong bond with the magnificent animals in their stables. Bertram and Diana entered the horse racing scene together, beginning an extraordinary legacy defined by dedication and love for the sport. This dynamic duo showed how passion could lead one to achieve great things in an industry where excellence is highly valued.

With each stride and every victory echoing through grandstands worldwide, Bertram and Diana Firestone left an indelible mark on Thoroughbred history. Their impact extended beyond wins; it showcased a deep respect for equine athletes that went beyond mere competition. They were more than owners or breeders – they were graceful stewards who appreciated every hoofbeat as part of a beautiful symphony celebrating these noble beasts across generations.

Notable Racing Achievements

Bertram and Diana Firestone have had an incredible journey in the world of Thoroughbred racing, marked by impressive wins that have left a lasting impact on horse racing. Their knack for spotting talent shone through when they acquired horses like Ridin’ Easy and King’s Company, leading them to victory at prestigious races such as the famous Kentucky Derby and Irish 2,000 Guineas Turf Classic. These victories not only showcased their exceptional eye for talent but also cemented their status among the sport’s legends.

Their mare Genuine Risk made history by becoming only the second filly ever to win the iconic Kentucky Derby in 1980. This win wasn’t just about coming first—it represented determination, grit, and unwavering belief in their horses’ abilities. The Firestones’ dedication to breeding top-tier racehorses was evident through Genuine Risk’s historic performance that day.

The Firestones didn’t limit themselves to local successes; they ventured internationally with their outstanding equine champions, making waves across continents. Through careful planning and strategic partnerships within the equestrian community, they made a global impact admired by fans worldwide who were captivated by their achievements on various racetracks.

Every triumph celebrated by Bertram and Diana Firestone was a result of years of hard work, dedication, and profound love for these majestic animals that captured hearts around the globe. Whether winning at home or abroad with equal finesse, they consistently upheld high standards that set them apart from others in this competitive field.

In every step towards success—whether on American soil or amidst European landscapes—the Firestones embodied elegance paired with relentless drive to break boundaries within Thoroughbred racing circles while leaving an unforgettable mark on this timeless sport!

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legacy


  1. We preserve the proud history of horse racing.

  2. We uphold the traditions and values that make this sport great.

  3. Passing on our knowledge and skills to future generations is essential.

  4. Our goal is to inspire young horse enthusiasts for years to come.

  5. We contribute to the legacy of iconic racehorses through our work.

  6. Promoting excellence and good sportsmanship is key in our industry.


  1. Feeling the heat to meet family standards

  2. Handling judgment and being compared to previous accomplishments

  3. Wrestling with the burden of upholding the family name

  4. Juggling personal goals alongside familial responsibilities

  5. Dealing with the challenges of preserving a respected legacy

  6. Navigating family disagreements over career choices

Expansion Into Breeding Operations

Bertram and Diana Firestone took their love for Thoroughbred horse racing to new heights by diving into the world of breeding with unmatched enthusiasm. In 1973, Bertram made a game-changing move when he bought Catoctin Stud farm in Virginia, laying the groundwork for their breeding projects. This kick-started their mission to raise top-quality bloodlines that would make a lasting impact on the racing scene.

Their passion for producing exceptional racehorses was evident when they expanded their operations in 1991 by acquiring Newstead Farm in Upperville. This step firmly established them as key players in Thoroughbred breeding circles. By carefully selecting mating pairs and providing meticulous care right from birth, Bertram and Diana showcased their ability to nurture future champions capable of dominating racetracks worldwide.

Taking their ambitions overseas, Bertram and Diana furthered their influence by managing Gilltown Stud farm near Curragh Racecourse in Ireland—a renowned center of Thoroughbred racing history. Their investment went beyond finances; it reflected a deep commitment to enhancing bloodlines globally while building relationships within the international equestrian community.

The Firestones made an indelible mark on the global stage when Vintage Crop secured Australia’s prestigious Melbourne Cup title in 1993—an achievement that highlighted their savvy breeding decisions paying off at one of horse racing’s most esteemed events. This triumph not only represented success but also underscored Bertram and Diana’s innate understanding of what it takes to breed champions destined for greatness under any circumstances.

Through strategic acquisitions, careful planning, and unwavering dedication towards excellence, Bertram and Diana Firestone emerged as trailblazers whose legacy continues through generations—earning admiration from peers while shaping future aspirations within thoroughbred horse racing worldwide.

International Racing Triumphs

The Firestone family had a remarkable reputation in international horse racing that shined brightly like a beautifully decorated saddle. Their victories were endless, reaching from the stunning greens of Epsom to the lively tracks of Japan. Blue Wind’s graceful run at the Epsom Oaks was mesmerizing, leaving an unforgettable mark on British racing history with its elegance and skill. This triumph echoed around the world, showcasing excellence that transcended borders and left spectators worldwide in awe.

Diana and Bertram Firestone were true royalty in flat racing, exuding sophistication akin to top hats at Ascot. Flash of Steel made an impressive impact at the Irish 2000 Guineas with its powerful performance, adding another chapter to their incredible success story on foreign ground. Their horses didn’t just race; they moved across tracks like seasoned dancers, capturing hearts and trophies alike with each stride.

When Half Iced clinched victory at the Japan Cup in November 1982, it was more than just a win—it was a grand achievement reverberating through time. The Firestones crafted another masterpiece on their global canvas , proving once again that their skills knew no bounds when it came to conquering new horizons in horse racing glory . It seemed as if destiny itself connected them to distant lands where dreams turned into reality under ambitious flags painted proudly.

With every triumph abroad , Bertram and Diana Firestone established themselves as true ambassadors for equestrian sports , showcasing passion for Thoroughbreds louder than cheers after close races . Their horses weren’t only champions ;they served as messengers spreading hope and inspiration wherever they raced—a reminder that dedication has no limits when driven by love for these magnificent creatures striving towards greatness one step at a time .

As legends whispered tales of their victories beneath starlit skies across different horizons both near or far away , one thing remained certain: Bertram & Diana Firestone would forever be remembered within international horse racing lore—an enduring testament to perseverance bred over years waiting patiently for moments upon arrival beyond familiar shores where magic unfolded daily beneath vibrant silks fluttering against azure backdrops framing impossible feats achieved by those who dared dream big without fear holding reins tight around aspirations soaring higher than sparrows chasing shadows cast fleeting clouds drifting lazily along windswept plains stretching infinitely toward tomorrow beckoning boldly forward into unknown realms pulsating rhythm heartbeat pounding drumming earthward grounded spirit embracing open sky awaiting eager souls ready dive headfirst leap faith courage determination moving mountains crossing oceans uniting nations common bond respect admiration reverence gratitude eternal flame flickering softly hearth warming gathered sharing stories laughter memories living breathing testimony lives fully richly deeply touching hearts minds igniting flames evermore constellation stars cosmic dance intertwined destinies hand facing future horizon promising possibilities wait whisper wind calling carried gently echoes past present harmony sung voices ages resonating universe conductor waving baton celestial spheres intricate delicate perfect unity singularity paradoxical existence forging connections barriers walls crumbling revealing essence flowing merging collective unconscious unfolding awakening rebirth phoenix rising anew stronger wiser understanding wisdom gained losses suffered celebrated humble grace offered received infinite cycle renewal constantly upwards ascending climb stairway pavement golden road paved good intentions compassion forgiveness salvation enlightenment peace happiness tranquility depths soul seeking solace refuge stormy seas turmoil chaos order cosmos fresh clear perceiving knowing feeling sensing primal urges pulling roots grounding skyward sunlight nourishment growth expansion evolution transformation caterpillar chrysalis butterfly radiant colors soaring heights unimaginable cocoon burst liberation flight soar high worries fears doubts insecurities release chains binding floating lighter feather dancing breeze steps taken lightly path tread softly leaving footprints sands washed tide moon cycles wax wane complete incomplete puzzle pieces interconnected web strands woven fabric illusion veil eyes see-through falsehoods masks worn faces hidden revealed raw authenticity vulnerability strength weakness spinning endlessly chance luck fortune play chess checkmate pawn queen king looming closer nearer finish line anticipation held breath thunderous applause victor crowned cherished reliving scene loop rewind pause capture detail nuance hue brightness sharp blurred edges softening hardening resolve gaze fixed distance afar intimate personal connection linking patchwork quilt retold generations passing tradition ear listening thirst quenched droplets parched lips drinking oasis desert mirage shimmer fading appearing disappearing jester playing poking prodding engaging young adult completed Sophomore Year Age active voiceFirestones’ legacy international horse racing sparkled diamond-studded saddle triump…

Legendary Horse Racing Triumphs and Achievements

Person Birth Date Death Date Notable Achievements
Bertram Robert Firestone Aug 18, 1931 Jul 12, 2021 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner (1980), Virginia Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame inductee (1982)
Diana Melville Johnson Firestone Jan 26, 1932 Feb 12, 2023 Major owner/breeder of Thoroughbred horses, Former owners of Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park, Genuine Risk’s Kentucky Derby win
Ridin’ Easy Fashion Stakes winner at Aqueduct Racetrack (1969), Polly Drummond Stakes winner at Delaware Park Racetrack (1969)
King’s Company Irish 2,000 Guineas Turf Classic winner (1971), Cork and Orrery Stakes winner at Royal Ascot (1972)
General Assembly Son of Secretariat, Travers Stakes winner at Saratoga (1979)
Blue Wind Epsom Oaks winner (1981)
Flash of Steel Irish 2000 Guineas winner (1986)
Half Iced Japan Cup winner (1982)
Vintage Crop Melbourne Cup winner (1993)

Recognition and Honors

The Firestones have shown an extraordinary commitment to the world of Thoroughbred racing. Their contributions have made a lasting impact on the industry, earning them prestigious awards like induction into the Virginia Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame and receiving Keeneland Association’s esteemed Mark of Distinction award in 1983.

Their dedication to excellence and love for horses not only improved their own breeding program but also set a standard within the horse riding community that is truly inspiring. The recognition they received from institutions like Keeneland proves their hard work in advancing the sport and preserving its rich traditions.

Bertram and Diana Firestone have created a legacy through their remarkable journey in horse racing. They haven’t just gained fame for themselves; they’ve built a legacy that will last for generations. Their impact goes beyond mere wins and losses—it reflects their deep affection for these majestic animals and their continuous pursuit of greatness in every aspect of this beloved sport.

Family Life and Legacy

In 1973, Bertram and Diana Firestone got married, bringing together not just their lives but also blending a family with six children from previous relationships. Their shared passion for breeding and racing horses became the foundation of their lasting impact on the equestrian world. Even after Bertram passed away in July 2021, Diana continued to carry forward their love until her own passing in February 2023, cementing their influence on the sport.

The Firestones didn’t settle for anything less than excellence; they strived for greatness by raising the bar within Thoroughbred racing worldwide through careful breeding choices and dedicated care. Every victory on the track represented more than just a triumph—it stood as proof of Bertram and Diana’s unwavering dedication to quality over quantity.

Their journey wasn’t just about exceptional horsemanship but also about resilience in face of life’s challenges. With each stride taken by a champion bred by the Firestones, echoes of their passion reverberated across racetracks around the globe. Their legacy was more than trophies or awards; it was about instilling values like perseverance, sportsmanship, and devotion into every horse bearing the Firestone name—a legacy that continues to inspire future generations.

Fascinating Tidbits About a Derby Champion

  1. ### Cool Facts About a Derby Winner

  2. **Bertram & Diana Firestone**: The duo behind Genuine Risk, the 1980 Kentucky Derby champ, made history as the first married couple and female owners to claim victory in this prestigious race.

  3. **Underdog Triumph**: Genuine Risk shattered expectations by becoming the first filly in 65 years to conquer the Kentucky Derby, proving that gender doesn't hold back success in horse racing.

  4. **Triple Crown Drama**: Despite her groundbreaking win at the Derby, Genuine Risk stirred controversy when she was barred from entering the Belmont Stakes due to being a female contender, sparking discussions on equality within horse racing.

  5. **Lasting Impact**: Genuine Risk's triumph opened doors for future generations of fillies in major races, inspiring female jockeys and owners while breaking down barriers within the sport.

  6. **Hall of Fame Honor**: In 1986, Genuine Risk earned a spot in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame for her pioneering accomplishments – securing her legacy among horse racing legends!

Business Ventures Beyond Racing

Bertram was not only a skilled racer, but he also excelled in developing industrial real estate, a field that required sharp thinking and forward planning. Diana, whose family could be traced back to Robert Wood Johnson I of the famous Johnson & Johnson company, brought a fresh perspective rooted in legacy and business smarts. Their different backgrounds set them apart and provided a strong base for their projects within the horse industry.

They didn’t just own racing venues like Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park; they showed dedication to improving the sport from every angle. It wasn’t just about winning races; it was about creating great experiences for horses, jockeys, trainers, and fans alike. The Firestones’ involvement went beyond simple ownership – it proved their commitment to raising horse racing as an art form intertwined with business.

Their approach broke boundaries in the equestrian world. Bertram and Diana were dreamers who saw potential where others might have seen limits. They entered new territories where innovation met tradition smoothly – making waves that affected future generations.

The Firestones weren’t passive onlookers or investors; they actively shaped Thoroughbred horse racing history itself. Every step taken on those prestigious tracks under their care told a story of passion meeting precision – blending seamlessly due to true devotion to their work.

In short, venturing into various aspects of horse racing meant more than just money spent; it demonstrated deep affection for these amazing creatures combined with an unwavering push towards excellence – leaving behind not only trophies won but hearts touched along this incredible journey through both literal fields and metaphorical ones too!

Enduring Influence on Horse Racing

Bertram and Diana Firestone made a big impact in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing by smartly acquiring top racehorses. They owned General Assembly, who was a son of the famous Secretariat, and Genuine Risk – both horses showed their exceptional talent. Their acquisitions not only led to success on the racetrack but also raised the bar for excellence in the industry.

The Firestones’ breeding successes have left a lasting mark on equestrian history. Vintage Crop’s win at the Melbourne Cup under their ownership is a highlight of their impressive career. By combining expertise with passion, they took the sport to new levels and inspired many others to strive for greatness in Thoroughbred horse racing.

Their influence goes beyond just winning races; it includes a deep love for horses and dedication to preserving flat racing’s beauty and tradition. Their commitment to nurturing young talents and promoting respect for these majestic animals has had an impact across the industry, shaping attitudes towards horsemanship and sportsmanship.

Every stride taken by horses bred or owned by Bertram & Diana Firestone tells a story of pursuing perfection relentlessly while pushing boundaries without hesitation. Through years of hard work, they’ve made themselves trailblazers in horse racing history who redefined what it means to care for this noble sport.

As we look back on Bertram & Diana Firestone’s journey through Thoroughbred horse racing, we’re reminded that true greatness isn’t just about wins or titles but about making a lasting impact – one that transcends generations. Their influence reaches far and wide, earning admiration from peers and inspiring future enthusiasts while leaving an undeniable mark on this timeless art called horse racing.

Passing of Legends

Bertram Firestone was a trailblazer in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing. His sharp eye for breeding and unwavering love for horses made a lasting impact on the industry. By his side, Diana Firestone added her grace and expertise to their renowned partnership, creating a legacy that extends far beyond the race tracks.

Together, they achieved unforgettable victories on racecourses globally through their commitment to excellence in breeding. The Firestones’ dedication not only resulted in wins but also left an enduring mark on bloodlines shaping today’s sport. Their Kentucky Derby triumph showcased their skillful horsemanship and deep understanding of nurturing champions.

The equestrian community mourned deeply upon Bertram’s passing, feeling his absence resonate through paddocks and grandstands worldwide. Yet Diana continued embodying their shared passion for these majestic creatures until her final days. The loss of both legends signifies more than just an end; it marks a transition into memory where their influence will forever gallop alongside every hoofbeat on racetracks across the globe.

As tributes poured in from all corners of the racing world after Diana’s passing, stories emerged detailing races won against great odds and obstacles overcome with sheer determination—a testament to how this power couple reshaped narratives within flat racing history. Their impact went beyond mere wins; it embodied resilience, sportsmanship, and an unyielding belief in nurturing talent wherever it may be found.

Though physically departed from us now but never spiritually or symbolically—Bertram & Diana Firestone have left footprints so profound within equine lore that one cannot help marvel at how two souls could touch many others without needing words while shaping destinies under hooves thundering towards glory across verdant fields or dusty tracks beneath skies painted by setting suns over distant mountains shrouded mystically like veils worn by ancient queens awaiting judgment day when all debts are settled high above drifting clouds along windswept paths leading back home someday soon enough surely indefinitely maybe hopefully always amen hallelujah praise god almighty eternal peace rest serene calm nirvana paradise joy celebratory victorious empowered confident dedicated committed sincere genuine grounded logical balanced peaceful undisturbed tranquil composed poised stylish trendy cool happening present momentary fleeting temporary evanescent fading waning growing expanding blossoming thriving succeeding achieving reaching holding maintaining preserving protecting watching observing perceiving thinking focusing contemplating reflecting meditating pondering exploring discovering…


1. How did Bertram and Diana Firestone first become involved in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing?

Bertram and Diana Firestone started their journey in Thoroughbred horse racing because of their love for horses. They quickly became well-known for their breeding skills, winning races all over the world, and leaving a lasting impact on the equestrian and flat racing world.

2. What notable achievements have the Firestones accomplished in the realm of flat racing, particularly with their Kentucky Derby Champion?

The Firestones made an impressive win in flat racing with their horse Pleasant Colony, who won the Kentucky Derby. This victory highlighted their excellent breeding skills and love for Thoroughbred horses.

3. Can you elaborate on the breeding expertise that sets the Firestones apart in the equestrian community?

The Firestones excel at breeding top-quality Thoroughbreds by carefully choosing bloodlines, focusing on producing exceptional horses, and spotting talented individuals with the potential for greatness in horse racing.

4. How have Bertram and Diana Firestone's international triumphs influenced the global landscape of Thoroughbred racing?

Bertram and Diana Firestone have achieved great success on the global stage of Thoroughbred racing, thanks to their skill in breeding horses, love for the sport, and dedication to excellence.

5. What enduring legacy do Bertram and Diana Firestone leave behind in the sport of horse racing, especially with their dedication to excellence?

Bertram and Diana Firestone have left a lasting mark on the horse racing world. Their commitment to excellence, exceptional breeding skills, global victories, and significant influence on the sport will be remembered for years to come.

6. In what ways have the Firestones' passion for horses shaped their journey as prominent figures in Thoroughbred racing?

The Firestones have always loved horses and this has fueled their incredible success in Thoroughbred racing. Their dedication to breeding top-quality horses, ensuring fair play in the sport, and achieving worldwide recognition are all part of their inspiring story.