“Secretariat” Wins the Race

Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

“Oh no, another horse racing movie.” This was the general thought upon seeing the trailer for “Secretariat” for many movie-goers. It is true – this is another horse racing movie. There was “Seabiscuit,” “Dreamer” and now “Secretariat” is among them … and it is equally amazing.

You do not need to know a thing about horse racing, or even know what the previously mentioned titles were to enjoy this film. This is another horse racing movie, and if you are in the least bit interested, you are bound to love it.

It was once said: “The Impossible – what nobody can do until somebody does.” In the case of Secretariat, that somebody was not just anybody. That somebody was a racehorse that went on to win the first Triple Cup after 25 years, a trio of distance races, where every one of his sire’s prior offspring had failed. But it is not just about a horse; it is about the owner who dared to gamble – a housewife who knew nothing about racing stepping out into a “man’s world” to make the impossible a reality.

The main focus of the film is the woman herself, Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), and her struggles after she begins to manage her father’s farm and horses. She is determined, strong-willed and a perfect example of “women’s intuition,” not backing down and facing every obstacle in her way despite constant discouragement. It is not so much about horse racing as it is about her drive and shrewd strategy – how she plays her cards.

The diversity of the film’s actors is definitely one of its best features. Every character has a unique personality, something that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, you name it. There is the lawyer and cautious husband, paranoid Harvard professor brother, supportive friend, aggressive jockey, horse whispering stable hand and a stubborn trainer. Even Secretariat himself has a mind of his own and will make you smile on a number of occasions – and not just in the humor aspect.

As for the plot, at first it moves very fast – you are thrust right into Secretariat and Chenery’s racing and everything seems to be going too well. Many may not mind this aspect. As the plot progresses, the film becomes much more enjoyable and truly inspirational. It is the kind of film in which you already know what happens in the end, but still enjoy every second of it. After all, it is history and thus very predictable (you just need to read what it is about or look up Secretariat on Wikipedia to know).

The movie was made to be an inspiration, and to tell a story. What matters most is not what happened, but how it happened. There are moments of joy, moments of disappointment, moments of laughter and moments where you will be biting your nails in suspense. It makes you a fan of horse racing, and perhaps gives you some pointers if you ever want to go into the profession.

Secretariat is the truly remarkable story of one woman determined to succeed and in the horse that she believed in – Secretariat. An “impossible true story” that proves its own tagline wrong. It is possible.
How far will you go to reach it?

Rating: 5 out of 5