Secretariat The Movie: Truth is better than Fiction
I was hoping to be entertained and to some degree have the ability to teach my kids about the greatest race horse I saw in my lifetime.
I was disappointed. Disney took a great story as evidenced by Bill Nack’s wonderful book, and made it schmaltzy.
Let’s start at the beginning. In reality, Penny Chenery Tweedy was the daughter of Christopher Chenery, a very wealthy man in his own right. Disney has you believe that the family was just about out of money and forgets that Meadow Stable owned Riva Ridge, the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner.
I never met Lucien Laurin, however I had met his son Roger. John Malkovich’s version was a caricature of a trainer; flamboyant, stubborn and domineering. I am not saying he wasn’t those things, but it clearly appears that the movie played it over the top.
Then there is the training of the horse. Disney would have you believe that all race training was done at Meadow Farm in Virginia, and that the horse was sent off to the track before each race. While this is the English way of training and works well there; in the States the horses are trained at the track as Secretariat was including his time in Florida between his two year old and three year old campaigns.
I wanted to like Secretariat. I wanted the movie to be representative of the horse and the people surrounding it. It ended up being a feel good movie about a great horse with factual flaws. I guess I wanted it to be Seabiscuit, and instead it was second rate.