The movie SECRETARIAT is based on a true story and takes you on the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner. Anyone even slightly familiar with horse racing knows the name of the horse who’s considered the greatest horse ever to circle the track. Secretariat left behind an unbelievable legacy with his string of record-setting wins that may never be broken.
The movie revolves around Penny Tweedy (played by Diane Lane), owner of Meadow Farm, a horse breeding business in Virginia that was founded by her father. French-Canadian Lucien Laurin, the former horse jockey who became Secretariat’s trainer is played by John Malcovich. Penny comes home to her father’s Virginia horse farm in the late 1960s after the death of her mother. Her father suffers from dementia. Her Harvard professor brother (Dylan Baker) wants to sell the farm even if it’s at a loss so he can get on with his life. Penny Chenery agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. She studies the books and the horse charts and does her research and discovers that two of her father’s mares are expected to foal and the sire was a Hall of Famer named Bold Ruler. She does her homework and decides in advance that the seemingly less desirable foal could be a champion, if she reads the genetics right.
Penny is a Denver housewife, dividing her time between Virginia (and the training of the horse) and the household she manages for her lawyer husband (Dylan Walsh) and their four children. Against all odds, Chenery, with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin, manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time.
The most enthralling scenes of this movie were in its races. The racing scenes, no doubt, get the viewer excited during Secretariat’s wins in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The Preakness Stakes was “glossed over” in the form of Penny’s children watching it on television. Clods of earth flying up from Secretariat’s hooves put us directly in the moment and you can almost feel the vibration of the pounding hooves.
The story of one of a few horses to win the Triple Crown of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes makes this movie a must watch for all horse lovers out there.
When in Lexington this past fall for the World Equestrian Games I took the above photo of Secretariat who, rightly so, has been memorialized at the horse park. The opening night for the movie coincided with the Games and was held in Lexington with its red carpet debut and Diane Lane present. My friend Anne Buchanan of International Horse Productions, http://horsecapitalproductions.com/index.php was instrumental in organizing this event.