Every so often, a story plays out in real-life that lends itself perfectly to a Disney movie. The journey shared by a horse named Secretariat (aka Big Red) and Penny Chenery Tweedy is one of those stories.
Full of luck, determination, pride and courage, "Secretariat," in theaters Oct. 8, tells the story of Tweedy, a housewife and mother, who follows her heart to save both the horses she inherits from her father and the family's equestrian legacy. In a fateful coin toss, Tweedy acquires ownership of the yet-unborn horse who will become Secretariat. Navigating the male-dominated horse-racing business with her wits and sense of humor intact, Tweedy ultimately fosters the greatest racehorse of all time.
Diane Lane, who plays Tweedy, walks a tight line between sorrow -- over the death of her father and the financial ruin of the stables -- and optimism as Secretariat's spectacular story unfolds. She accurately depicts the loneliness and all-consuming nature of horsemanship. But the tender moments between Tweedy and Secretariat are tempered by the personalities that rally around the two characters. Trainer Lucien Laurin (played by John Malkovich), keeps audiences entertained with his flamboyant personality and attire (his panache for plaid was shared by groom Eddie Sweat, played by Nelsan Ellis). The most authentic character in the movie was jockey Ronnie Turcotte, played by real-life jockey Otto Thorworth, who strolls into the movie on crutches, announcing, of course, he'd be ready to race.
With creative camera angles and special effects, film-makers do an excellent job of recreating the three Triple Crown races. But director Randall Wallace also captures how the 1973 races galvanized a nation, strife with war and protesters, around one amazing horse.
And that horse, with his big heart and his love of coming from behind, will captivate you all over again in "Secretariat."
"Secretariat" is rated PG and is in theatres beginning Friday, Oct. 8. Watch the trailer and scenes.
Amanda Hudspeth, a lifelong equestrian, and Mari Jebens, who has ridden horses since she was 10 years old, attended the movie screening and contributed to this review. Hudspeth owns Great Griffin Farms. Jebens is the stable manager at Great Griffin Farms. Great Griffin Farms is a premier all-inclusive hunter/jumper equestrian facility located in St. Charles County. In addition to other services, they offer riding lessons and camps for kids. Thank you, Amanda and Mari!