The summer can be a bit of a slow time for horse racing fans in the United States.
The frenzy of the Triple Crown has died down, and the roadmaps to the Breeders’ Cup are only just starting to be drawn up. The vast majority of two-year-olds have yet to see a racetrack, and while the summer racing meets at Del Mar, Belmont Park, and Saratoga will undoubtedly have their share of sportsmanship and drama, they often serve as a coda to the Triple Crown series or a prelude to the Breeders’ Cup.
However, for those who are missing the adrenaline rush of horse race analysis, there are movies that can help to tide you over. Better yet, these movies are based on true stories; the horses, owners, jockeys, and trainers of these movies have all actually existed and left an indelible mark on the sport.
Here are three must-watch horse racing movies you should take this summer.
Dream Horse (2020)
Dream Horse is a movie based on the story of Dream Alliance, a colt from the most humble beginnings who went on to win the Welsh Grand National, an elite steeplechasing race, in 2009.
In the film, Jan Vokes (Toni Collette) is a cashier who buys a broodmare for a pittance and forms a neighborhood syndicate to breed her and raise, and eventually race, the resulting foal. Orphaned at birth, the colt nonetheless is strong and healthy. Vokes names him Dream Alliance.
All is going well for Dream Alliance until he begins racing and injures a tendon. The injury is so severe that many experts actually recommend euthanizing the colt. He recovers just in time for the race of his life. Can Dream Alliance prove himself to be the champion Vokes has always dreamed of?
Ride Like A Girl (2019)
Michelle Payne achieved a major milestone in racing history in 2015 when she became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most prestigious race. Her story is outlined in the film Ride Like A Girl.
Michelle Payne (played by Teresa Palmer) had literally dreamed of winning the Melbourne Cup since she was a child. Her early life was imbued with tragedy; her mother died in a car accident, and one of Payne’s nine older siblings died as the result of injuries sustained when falling from a horse. Pushing herself to the forefront of a male-dominated sport was no easy task, either, and Payne became known for telling those who got in her way to “get stuffed.”
Payne gets her chance to make her lifelong dream a reality in 2015. Her mount, Prince of Penzance, started at 100-1 in a full field of 24 horses. Can Payne and Prince of Penzance overcome the odds and shock the racing world?
What better way to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Secretariat’s utter domination of the 1973 Triple Crown than to watch the Walt Disney adaptation of his life story?
Owner Penny Chenery (played by Diane Lane) is facing bankruptcy when a chestnut colt named Secretariat first starts to realize his championship potential. With the help of trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis), and jockey Ron Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth), Secretariat was named Horse Of The Year for 1972, an almost unheard-of honor for a two-year-old. Chenery cobbles together a syndication package for Secretariat’s breeding rights which will save her beloved Meadow Stud- but only if Secretariat continues his winning ways as a three-year-old. What he accomplishes on the track, particularly in the grueling 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes, must be seen to be believed.
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