Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Headless Horsemen, the Secretariat trailer, and the Kentucky Derby

The 2009 book Headless Horsemen: A Tale of Chemical Colts, Subprime Sales Agents, and the Last Kentucky Derby on Steroids Jim Squires came out in paperback yesterday. It's a fascinating read, particularly the sections on the evolution of sky-high yearling prices and the speculation that a long-time Churchill Downs vet essentially fixed the Derby for decades.

Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, Disney releases the trailer for its October Secretariat. From the trailer's tone, it seems to be an even more manipulative piece of handsome fluff than 2003's overrated Seabiscuit. But while Seabiscuit's story was of the comeback kid, combining genuine achievement with the ever-popular story of that magical second chance, Secretariat's is a tougher sell. What do you say about a freak of nature, a horse whose heart was literally - not choked-emotion-in-a-chord-swelling-speech - larger than normal? The trailer indicates that the filmmakers chose to focus on the horse's owner, and her challenges facing a male establishment at the dawn of the feminist era. All in bright, crazy Disney style, of course. But for once, that sturdy Disney hyperbole fits. At the end of the trailer, when an unseen man cries out "You about to see something you ain't never seen before!" it rings true. Secretariat's boringly simple story - great racehorse wins and wins and wins, and is declared a champion and wins some more - is an engine powerful enough to cut straight through the rags and tatters of a typical Hollywood horse story. Let's see if it does.

A regional publisher, Dementi Milestone, is bringing out a glossy book of Secretariat-related stories and photos in September. Secretariat's Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend by Kate Chenery Tweedy (daughter of Penny Chenery, Secretariat's owner) and Leeanne Ladin.

Returning from 1973... The field is set for 2010's Kentucky Derby. There's a filly in it for the first time since Eight Belles in 2008, the bay Devil May Care. NBC will cover the race from 4-6pm EST. The first 2 hours and 50 minutes will, of course, center largely on what celebrities are in the stands, interviews with long-suffering trainers and inane banter from the commentators.

1 comment:

Moggypie said...

I'll be very curious to see how the story of Secretariat is portrayed on the silver screen (and since I have a horse-loving kid,we'll definitely be seeing it). I was 12 the year Big Red stormed his way to the Triple Crown and wrote a fan letter to Mrs. Tweedy--still have her reply. Actually, truth be told, I wrote the letter to Secretariat...she even sent a picture of him. Quite a thrill! Alas, never got to go to Kentucky to visit his stable when he retired--a friend of mine did, though, and has an adorable picture of her coltish young self absolutely agog before the big, friendly horse, who's nuzzling her hand.