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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Thoroughbred breeder and owner Bert Firestone died

 WELLINGTON,, Fla.--Bertram Robert Firestone, 89 of Wellington, Fla., and Upperville, Va., died July 12 in West Palm Beach after a week of failing health.

 Bert Firestone turfotos Diana and Bert Firestone (Phot by Turfotos)A horseman all his life, Firestone, competed in horse shows, fox hunted, bred and owned successful race horses, owned race tracks and was the Eclipse Award leading owner of 1980.

Notonly was he an accomplished equestrian in his own right, he passed his love of horses and his ability to his children, particularly Matthew and Alison.

Alison Robitaiile rode on 25 Nations Cup team, was the top-placed U.S. rider at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome, Italy, was part of the silver medal-winning U.S. Team at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, and named the first alternate for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

"I think horses were everything in his life," said Firestone's son, Matthew.

Both Bert and Diana Firestone were avid show jumpers and hunted in Virginia with the Piedmont and Middleburg Hunts and were Joint-Masters of the Kildare Foxhounds in Ireland.


FIRESTONE attended the New York Military Academy where he was on the jumping team and attended the University of Virginia.

After graduation from college in 1954, he worked for a New York brokerage firm and then formed Firestone Properties, a company that planned, built, and leased commercial and industrial properties.

Firestone bought his first thoroughbred yearling at Fasig-Tipton's 1966 Saratoga select yearling sale under the name Chance Hill Farm.

He married Diana Johnson in 1973.

Diana is the granddaughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson.

Honest Pleasure, a $45,000 What a Pleasure colt the Firestones bought at Saratoga who was trained by LeRoy Jolley, was  a G1 winner at 2 and the 1975 champion 2-year-old colt.

At 3, Honest Pleasure won the Flamingo Stakes (G1), Florida Derby (G1), and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and was second in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He went on to win the Travers Stakes (G1).

In 1980, the Firestones' champion 3-year-old filly Genuine Risk was the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby and finished second in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Through 2016, the Firestones campaigned 51 graded or group stakes winners, including Theatrical, the 1987 Eclipse champion grass horse.

The Firestones' other champions included April Run, 1981 champion 3-year-old filly in France and 1982 U.S. champion grass mare; Blue Wind, 1981 champion 3-year-old filly in England and Ireland; Play It Safe, 1981 champion 2-year-old filly in France; and Paradise Creek, the 1994 champion grass horse who also was trained by Mott.

As breeders, the Firestones produced 11 graded or group winners, including nine-time graded stakes winner, among them Paradise Creek. r Shinko Lovely, Chief Honcho and Winchester.

Firestone owned racetracks for a time, including Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park.

Firestone is survived by his wife, Diana; his four children, Matt, Greg, Ted and Alison; his three stepchildren, Lorna, Chris and Cricket and several grandchildren.

Arrangements are pending.

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