And They're Off!
Recommended by Deb, a movie buff and adult reference librarian at the Canton Public Library.
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This 1979 film is adapted from the 1941 beloved childrens novel by Walter Farley. On a steamer ship off the coast of North Africa, Alec Ramsey, a young boy traveling with his father, is captivated with a wild Arabian black stallion. That night the steamer capsizes and sinks. They are the only two survivors of the terrible tragedy. Shipwrecked on a deserted island, the boy and his horse become inseparable. After being rescued and returning home, the horse is allowed to live in the boys backyard, but is spooked and runs off. The next day, the boy finds his horse in a barn owned by a retired jockey named Henry, played by Mickey Rooney. Henry teaches Alex how to be a jockey and trains the horse to race in the most anticipated horseracing events of the year. The bond between the boy and horse grows even stronger. This movie is a masterpiece.
A film inspired by a true story of an injured thoroughbred horse named Mariahs Storm. The story begins in Lexington, Kentucky in the heart of horseracing country. Cale, played by Dakota Fanning, is a precocious 11-year-old girl who lives on the Crane family horse farm. She laments its the only farm in Kentucky without horses. One day, her father brings Cale to his work at the racetrack, where she witnesses a horse breaking her leg during a race. The thoroughbred fillys life is spared and is renamed Sonador, meaning Dreamer. Sonya, a.k.a. Sonador, is lovingly rehabilitated back to health at the Cranes farm. Within six months of care and training, shes ready to race in the Breeders Cup Classic and earn her place in the winners circle.
This charming family film skyrocketed Elizabeth Taylor into fame and celebrity. I barely remember seeing this movie as a child so watching as an adult was a new experience. Elizabeth Taylor plays a young English girl, Velvet Brown, who falls in love with a gelding she sees rollicking in a field. Though not her horse, she names him Pie, which is short for Piebald; a name describing the pattern of coloring on horses. The horse is fast and can jump over 6-foot hedges. Velvet wins Pie in a lottery and soon begins training him for the worlds greatest steeplechase, the Grand National. A wanderer and hired hand, played by Mickey Rooney, helps Velvet disguise herself as a male jockey so she can ride Pie to victory herself.
It was July 6, 1975 and a warm summer day at Belmont Park. A colt and a filly were in a match race to determine a champion among champions. The press called it the equine battle of the sexes and the one race to bring horseracing back into popularity. Then catastrophe happened. As the filly pulled ahead, she broke her leg badly. This is the true story of Ruffian. She was a black beauty, born to run with amazing grace and speed. Out of the gate like a lightning bolt, she was unbeatable and undefeated. No horse came even close. Beloved by her trainer, Frank Whitely (played by Sam Shepherd), she was considered to be the greatest female racehorse of all time. Ruffian won the Filly Triple Crown, broke numerous track records, won prestigious honors and awards. After her tragic death, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. She'll be remembered as one of the best, brightest and fastest racehorses in American memory. At the sad conclusion of the movie, there are clips of the real Ruffian; leaving all her opponents in the distance as she gloriously crosses the finish line.
A knobby-kneed racehorse and half-blind jockey are two misfits who inspired a nation during one of its darkest times. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, it tells the true Depression-era story of an American public whose dreams were shattered and finding redemption from an unlikely source. A dispirited jockey, a grief-stricken millionaire, and a washed-up wrangler form a partnership to train an unconventional hero, Seabiscuit. Born without the classic physique of thoroughbred racehorse, Seabiscuit was short in stature with a quirky gait. Hes given a second chance and blossoms into one of the most famous racehorses in American history. The heart-pounding horse racing action puts the viewer right at the starting gate; up-close with these magnificent and powerful racehorses. We also step back into time with newsreels of disheartened Americans looking for work when there was none. Seabiscuit was an ordinary horse with extraordinary speed who became one the greatest legends to take horseracing beyond sports and into the American culture as well as the hearts of many fans to this day.