Everyone loves a winner. The Walt Disney company knows it, and is banking on it yet again in their new movie “Secretariat,” the true story of one of history’s greatest athletes. For those lacking knowledge of horse racing or feel-good stories, Secretariat was the 1973 winner of the Triple Crown: the three-race series of the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes, and The Belmont Stakes. He went down in history as the first winner in 25 years, and joined Seabiscuit in the “racehorses we can name off the top of our heads” file.
Disney Counts On An Equine Hero
Horse racing and the film industry aren’t all that different—they both revolve around money. But then again, what doesn’t? Disney’s new warm and fuzzy equine film incurred the relatively low production cost of $35 million, and goes up against expected (and proven) Blockbusters such as “The Social Network” and “Life As We Know It.” Secretariat is the only one of the three aggressively marketed as a family movie, but it’s mainly drawing the attention of an older audience who are already familiar with the triumphant story.
Money Sparks Competition
Secretariat’s Triple Crown win sparked its own money avalanche. The bulk of the profit from a winning racehorse comes from stud fees, where breeders pay to mate their mares with a winning racer and hopefully produce a winner of their own. Secretariat, who was retired before the age of four, spent the bulk of his life as a sire. After his wins, breeders and owners lost interest (or couldn’t swing the cost) in competing in all three races of the Triple Crown, so a rivalry incentive was offered: money. From the mid-80s to 2005, there was a $5 million bonus to the winner of all three races, or a $1 million bonus to the horse with the best overall track record in the three races. While the money convinced trainers to enter their horses in all three races, no one secured the $5 million in the years it was offered.
Horse racing has a multi-faceted image: it’s unsavory because of the gambling, inspiring because of the potential for underdogs, exhilarating because of its energy. But hope, perseverance and triumph always make for a feel-good story, on or off the track.
Tell us in the comments: Will you see "Secretariat"? Or is another movie on your agenda for this weekend?
Image Credit: Examiner