Top Horse Racing Movies
by Daniel Korolija
Over the years, horse racing has been a big inspiration for both writers and Hollywood directors. From gritty stories about gamblers, grooms, and trainers, to inspiring and heartbreaking tales of man and horse achieving the impossible – it’s all been done.
We carefully selected four inspiring horse-racing movies that stand out from the crowd. All four movies are set in different time periods and have a unique storyline. But there’s one thing they each have in common – an underdog who beats unbelievable odds.
When it comes to movies about horse racing, there is none more inspiring than Randall Wallace’s Secretariat. The movie was released in 2010 starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich, and it quickly became a cult-classic. The movie is based on a true story of a housewife and a racing horse who together triumphantly overcame unbelievable odds.
The story begins with Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) learning about her mother’s death, and returning to her childhood home. She finds out that their family business, Meadow Stables is falling apart and needs to figure out how to bring it back to profitability. Penny soon discovers hope in the birth of one of her father’s horses.
After hard determination, effort, and assistance from their Canadian trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), the horse (Secretariat) becomes the first US triple-crown champion in 25 years.
The movie is a great story about persistence through hardship and struggle. It isn’t only a story about one of the fastest horses in history, but it’s a story that speaks to us all and tells us that we can find the strength to power through any struggle, and live our dreams without regret.
Seabiscuit, released in 2003, was directed by Gary Ross and stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper. The movie is based on the best-seller by Laura Hillenbrand and tells the story of three men and their horse going against all odds during the 1930’s depression era.
During the Great Depression, people needed something to believe in, and Seabiscuit was exactly that. He was a relatively small, lazy horse with a wild side, and he went against larger, more famous horses with great pedigrees. Let’s face it, everyone loves an underdog. Seabiscuit met three men – also underdogs in their own way – who would transform him into one of the most-loved racing legends in history.
The movie is a great example of a tale where a horse is treated like a real hero. He was able to run fast, and never gave up when guided by the love, effort, and dedication of these three men. It’s a story that everyone can enjoy and learn something from. Never give up, even during the hardest of times!
Hidalgo – released in 2004 – stars Viga Mortensen. It is a powerful story about a man and his horse. Hidalgo is the name of the Mustang ridden by Franklin T. Hopkins, and the duo is part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. At the show, they are always promoted as the world’s greatest endurance horse and rider. One day they are challenged to enter a 3,000-mile endurance race across the Najd Desert to prove their reputation.
The movie shows Franklin’s powerful transformation – he starts as a gloomy, drunk cowboy with a curiously talented Mustang who spends his days laboring for Buffalo Bill’s West Show. His days are spent without any goals or purpose. After the duo is challenged, however, Hopkins decides to risk everything and travels to the Saudi Desert to try and win the $10,000 prize.
The race is so exhausting that many riders and horses die, and some are even murdered by their rivals. Throughout the race, Hopkins and Hidalgo overcome many obstacles and prejudices. No one believes that a mixed-breed Mustang like Hidalgo can challenge famous Arab stallions, descended from ancient lineages. Nevertheless, Hidalgo and Hopkins prove them wrong
Near the end of the race, the team reaches a breaking point and Hopkins considers shooting Hidalgo to end his suffering. In the end, Hopkins manages to get back on the horse, and the duo finishes the race. When they return home, Hopkins purchases a herd of Mustangs with the prize money and releases them with Hidalgo in the wild.
It is truly an inspiring movie, that goes over some interesting themes, such as cultural differences, and teaches us to never give up, and accept who we are.
Another 2004 release, Dreamer is a true story about a relationship between a girl and her horse, starring Curt Russel, Kris Kristofferson, and Dakota Fanning.
The story revolves around Cale Crane (Dakota Fanning) – a young girl who lives on an old horse farm with her parents and grandfather. One day young Cale spends a work-day with her father Ben (Kurt Russel) and meets a racehorse called Sonya. Cale and Sonya immediately create a strong bond, which is beautifully portrayed throughout the movie. Sonya, unfortunately, breaks her leg in a race, and Ben refuses to put her to sleep in front of his daughter. Ben gets fired because of his decision and gets to keep the horse as his severance pay.
Ben nurses the horse back to health and hopes to breed it, however, things don’t look good because it turns out that she is infertile. The only way to cover their expenses is to race the horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The movie provides great entertainment for both children and adults. It covers interesting topics, such as Ben’s trouble to show his affection to Cale due to his difficult relationship with his own father, retired horse trainer, Pop (Kris Kristofferson). Cale’s mother helps Ben conquer his disconnection with his daughter and makes him understand the bond between Cale and Sonya.
Dreamer will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Although it may be a sports movie, it does a good job of portraying family values and provides great moral lessons for everyone. Definitely a must-watch for the whole family.
These four films aren’t just regular sports movies that you forget about the next day. They are true works of art that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions and keep you strapped to your seat. No matter which one you choose, we guarantee you’ll leave inspired.