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Bert and Diana Firestone

In The News:

 Biography and Highlights:  
  • Born: Bert was born on Aug. 18, 1931; Diana on Jan. 26, 1932
  • Residence: Newstead Farm, near Upperville, Va., and Florida
  • Family: Son Matthew, who famously picked out Genuine Risk at auction at age 14 in 1978, and Daughter Alison Firestone Robitaille, an active show jumper, who was part of the silver medal team at the 1999 Pan Am American Games
  • Professional Background: Bert (no relation to the tire firm) built his wealth in warehouses and real estate development of industrial parks in the 1960's ... Diana is an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune through Robert Wood Johnson ... At one time owned both Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course in South Florida
  • Racing Background: When married in 1974, Bert owned Catoctin Stud near Leesburg, which he had purchased in 1973, and merged farms with Diana's, also in Virginia ... Bert purchased two farms in Ireland from the Aga Khan, and during the 1970's and 1980's, had about 120 horses in Virginia and Ireland ... Fillies ran in Diana's name, and colts in Bert's name ... Purchased 400-acre Newstead Farm in 1991 and moved there, near Upperville, Virginia ... Diana rides recreationally, and rode Genuine Risk until she was too arthritic to be ridden anymore. "Jenny," as Diana called her, died in 2008
  • Racing Career: Their current stable star is Winchester, a four-time Grade 1 winning son of the Firestone's 1987 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Theatrical (Ire). Winchester won the 2010 Manhattan Handicap (G1), defeating champion turf male Gio Ponti ... Both Winchester and Gio Ponti are trained by Christophe Clement … Winchester finished seventh in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf and fourth in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf. He also won the 2011 Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) ...The Firestones have owned six champions, starting with Honest Pleasure, the outstanding 2-year-old colt of 1975 … Honest Pleasure won the Champagne, Laurel Futurity, Arlington-Washington Futurity and Cowdin at two, then captured the Florida Derby, Flamingo and Blue Grass at three … He was the betting favorite in the 1976 Kentucky Derby, but finished second to Bold Forbes … Later that year, he won the Travers … Perhaps Honest Pleasure’s most famed performance was a second-place finish to Forego in the 1976 Marlboro Cup when Forego, carrying 137 pounds to Honest Pleasure’s 119, rallied furiously in the stretch and caught the Firestone’s colt in the final stride to win by a nose … Their most well-known and beloved horse was Genuine Risk, who in 1980 became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby in 65 years … That year’s champion 3-year-old filly, Genuine Risk then finished second in the Preakness to Codex, who drifted out in the filly’s path on the final turn but was not disqualified. A three-day hearing by the Maryland Racing Commission upheld the stewards’ decision not to reverse the order of finish … She was also second in the Belmont Stakes, becoming the only filly to place in all three legs of the Triple Crown … Genuine Risk produced only two foals, Genuine Reward, by Rahy, and Count Our Blessing, by their homebred stakes winner Chief Honcho, neither of which raced successfully ... "If I had a choice, I'd take having a great racemare over having a great broodmare," Bert said ... The Firestones’ other champions were What a Summer (sprinter, 1977), April Run (female turf horse, 1982), Theatrical (Ire) (male turf, 1987) and Jimmy Lorenzo (steeplechase, 1988) … Theatrical (Ire) won the 1987 Turf under the care of trainer Bill Mott, giving the Firestones their lone Breeders’ Cup win … The homebred champion and leading sire originally raced for Dermot Weld, and finished second in the 1985 Irish Derby (G1) before coming to the United States ... Theatrical, which they owned in partnership with Allen Paulson, finished second in the 1986 Breeders' Cup Turf, and also won Turf Classic, Man o’War, Sword Dancer, Red Smith and Hialeah Turf Cup during his career ... Pensioned in Oct. 2009, Theatrical (Ire) began his stud career at Paulson’s Brookside Farm near Versailles, Ky and in 2001, he was moved to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm near Lexington … The Firestones also raced General Assembly, who won the 1979 Travers by a record 15 lengths … Second in that year’s Kentucky Derby, General Assembly also recorded stakes wins in the Hopeful, Saratoga Special, Gotham and Vosburgh …. Other top class horses campaigned by the Firestones include Optimistic Gal (six G1 wins), Blue Wind (English and Irish Oaks), Gaily Gaily (Flower Bowl), Chief Honcho, Cure the Blues and Japan Cup winner Half Iced
  • Breeding/Racing Operation: Most of their horses are with Clement in the United States and Weld in Ireland ... Also have about two dozen broodmares spread between Newstead Farm and Ireland ... The Firestones bred 1994 champion turf horse Paradise Creek.

NOTE: Stats include North American and selected international races. Click here to view selected international race list.

Biographies on jockeys, trainers and owners are from the Breeders' Cup World Championships events from 2001 through 2009, and are intended as informational resources. Biographies will be updated if an individual is again a participant in the Breeders' Cup World Championships.

Biographies are available for most horses appearing in the top 100 money earnings list, and/or for those who are frequently making headlines in the news starting with the 2006 Triple Crown season.


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