Star cast: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, Otto Thorwarth.
Director: Randall Wallace.
Plot: Penney Chenery, a housewife and mother, takes up the task of managing her ailing father’s horse farm. Big Red, a young horse that she wants to race, is her only bet to save the farm from being sold.
What’s Good: The inspiring story; Diane Lane’s performance.
What’s Bad: To some, the story might seem too good to be true. But then, it is!
Verdict: Secretariat will keep the audiences fairly well-entertained and inspired.
Loo Break: None.
Walt Disney Pictures’ Secretariat is a heart-warming story of one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Secretariat (or Big Red), and its owner, a housewife and mother, Penney Chenery (Diane Lane). Based on a true story, the film chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown race winner. The film begins with the death of Penney’s mother, after which she rushes to her senile father’s (Scott Glenn) aid and ends up taking over his Virginia-based Meadow Stables. In spite of opposition from her husband, Jack (Dylan Walsh) and her Harvard-professor brother, Hollis (Dylan Baker), and her apparent lack of horse-racing knowledge, she decides to take on the male-dominated world of horse racing.
Penney’s first step is firing the stable’s corrupt manager and taking a look at its finances. While Hollis and Jack want to sell the stable off, Penney opposes the idea tooth and nail. Lady Luck smiles on Penney when she wins an unborn foal – progeny of Bold Ruler, a champion stallion – in a coin toss with Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell), who is described as the world’s richest man. Penney’s hunch is that the foal, which she names Big Red, will possess unusual speed and stamina and she decides to race him. To train Big Red, she brings on board a veteran trainer, Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) and an intrepid jockey, Ronnie Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth). After a few months of training, Big Red is renamed for the racetrack as Secretariat. He wins a few small races, creating a buzz on the racing circuit. Penney convinces Phipps, the richest American, to invest money in the horse. But she has to guarantee that Secretariat will win all the three big races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, or she will pay back her investors. Will the three-year-old Secretariat, acclaimed for its speed but rued for its lack of stamina, be able to win the Triple Crown? Does Penney manage to save her ailing father’s horse farm? The rest of the film answers these questions.