My favorite movie in the entire world is Seabiscuit. A story of love and loss, and making the best of the cards that you are dealt. And it also is heavily centered around horses, which makes it all the more interesting for me. It is not the best equestrian movie in the world, but it has remained my steadfast and unchallenged favorite for thirteen years.
I first saw this movie when I was seven years old, and it is still something I remember very clearly. I went with my entire family, even my dad and brother who do not harbor the same intense love for horses my mom and I have, tagged along. We were in Orlando, Florida, visiting Disney, and probably the youngest children in the theater. Nice move mom, not your best idea. The film, rated PG-13, has mild language, somewhat heavy alcoholic themes, violence, and some sexual innuendoes as two main characters end up in a brothel. As if I really new what a brothel was at seven. I’m not too scarred.
This movie I can quote like none other, is based on the story of plucky little Seabiscuit. He was a small horse, poorly built, nothing overly imposing to look at, with pretty great bloodlines. When he first started training to race, there were high hopes for him. His size was slightly concerning, but good bloodlines mean a lot in horse racing.
However, his training did little to impress his trainer, and when he finally was raced, he was a flop. He soon became ill tempered and was sold very cheaply to Charles Howard, under the guidance of his chosen trainer, Tom Smith. Howard was new to the world of horse racing, and Smith was a wayward soul on the edge of racing society. Together, they teamed up with jockey “Red” Pollard, and tried to make something work. Seabiscuit basically had to be retrained, but once he was give that chance, he calmed down, and became one of the best racehorses of his day in the time of the Great Depression. People loved horse racing, and seeing this little underdog of a horse rise to racing royalty beating skilled competitor after skilled competitor, they realized they found something they could rally behind. Truly a horse of the people, he provided something to believe in, and became an American legend whose name stands the test of time.
It’s not a perfect movie. I still to this day love everything about it. It highlights history in the time of the Depression, it teaches you not to give up hope when you literally don’t have any hope left. It also reminds us not to give up on people, or horses for the matter, because everyone deserves that chance to make someone realize they’re worth that chance. Like Tom Smith (played by Chris Cooper) said in the movie, “You don’t throw a whole life away just ‘cause it’s banged up a little”.
In this part of the movie, Seabiscuit faces Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who was arguably the best horse in the nation at the time, in a match race in 1938. Seabiscuit ends up winning this race, which was coined the Match Race of the Century.