Bertram and Diana Firestone

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Bertram Robert Firestone (born August 18, 1931) and Diana Johnson Firestone (born January 26, 1932) of Newstead Farm in Upperville, Virginia are major owner/breeders of Thoroughbred equestrian and flat racing horses. They were voted the 1980 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner[1] and in 1982 were inducted in the Virginia Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame.[2] They are former owners of Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in Florida.[3] The Firestone's Genuine Risk was known for winning the 1980 Kentucky Derby.

Early life[edit]

Bertram Firestone was a highly successful industrial real estate developer.[citation needed] Diana Johnson is the daughter of John Seward Johnson I and Ruth Dill. One of the couple's six children, her paternal grandfather, Robert Wood Johnson I, was the founder of the health related products manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.[4] Her maternal grandfather, Colonel Thomas Melville Dill, was a prominent Bermudian soldier, lawyer, and politician.[citation needed]

Thoroughbred racing[edit]

The Firestones raced horses in the United States and in Europe. Bertram Firestone won the Curragh when King’s Company won the Irish 2,000 Guineas Turf Classic in May 1971. The horse went on to take the Cork and Orrery Stakes at the Royal Ascot in 1972.[5][6]

Bertram bought the Catoctin Stud farm in Waterford, Virginia in 1973. In 1991 he and Diana acquired the Newstead Farm in Upperville, Virginia. For racing in Europe, they operated the 1,200 acre Gilltown Stud farm in Kilcullen, County Kildare, Ireland near the famous Curragh, which they sold in 1989 to the Aga Khan IV for $14.2 million.[6]

Among their many successes in Thoroughbred racing, in 1980, the Firestone's Hall of Fame inductee Genuine Risk[7] became only the second filly to ever win the Kentucky Derby.[8]

They also bred and raced Secretariat's son, General Assembly whose Saratoga track record time in winning the 1979 Travers Stakes stood until 2016. Trained by Dermot Weld, the Firestones' Blue Wind won the 1981 Epsom Oaks and Flash of Steel won the 1986 Irish 2000 Guineas. In November, 1982 they won the Japan Cup with 3-year-old colt Half Iced.[9] They were the breeders of Vintage Crop that won Australia's Melbourne Cup in 1993.[6]

In 1983 Bertram and Diana Firestone were honored by the Keeneland Association with their Mark of Distinction for their contribution to Keeneland and the Thoroughbred industry.[10]

Marriage and children[edit]

Bertram married Diana in 1974. They were each divorced with three children by a previous marriage.[11]


  1. ^ "Eclipse Awards at the TRA". Archived from the original on 2012-01-22. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  2. ^ Virginia Thoroughbred Association Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Bert and Diana Firestone at the NTRA Archived September 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Barrons, The Market's Finest by Michael Santoli". 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  5. ^ "The Curragh". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. 1971-05-16. p. 82. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  6. ^ a b c "The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone". Sothebys. London/New York. 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  7. ^ National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Archived June 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Palm Beach Post - September 4, 1981
  9. ^ "Half Iced charges to Japan Cup". News-Press. Fort Myers, Florida. 29 Nov 1982. p. 30. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  10. ^ "Mark of Distinction" (PDF). Keeneland. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  11. ^ "Three Years Ago". The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. 30 Apr 1976. p. 73. Retrieved 2020-09-29.