Ron Turcotte Meeting and Thoughts on 'Secretariat'

This will be my last post about the World Equestrian Games, but I wanted to tell you all about my encounter with Ron Turcotte, the jockey of Secretariat, while I was out at the Kentucky Horse Park a couple of weeks ago.

I was walking around the huge tent promoting dozens of local stores and various organizations, and I happened upon the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation booth. Sitting in his wheelchair preparing to sign autographs was the man himself—Turcotte--who had piloted Secretariat through all of his Triple Crown glory.

Part of me was thinking that I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time, but another part of me felt like the situation was meant to be.

“I’ve been at the Kentucky Horse Park quite a few times…but not when there was this many people or many horses,” Turcotte told me in a soft spoken voice, so faint, I could barely hear him.

There were so many things I wanted to ask him…how does it feel now, all these years later, looking back at his accomplishments? What was Secretariat really like to ride? What has Turcotte been up to during his retirement from racing?

But for some reason, I had trouble getting the words out, and time was running short. Turcotte had places to go, autographs to sign, and there was already a hefty line forming at the TRF table of people eager to meet him. But I did ask him one thing…what was it like being here at the Horse Park for such an event as this?

“It’s always pretty special to come here,” he said with a smile. “I love horses—I have owned horses all my days. And the memories from my riding years are still fresh--especially the ones with Secretariat.”

Turcotte added that the last several years, he has taken pride in volunteering and promoting such organizations as the TRF, as well as the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund.

My friend Angie and I were able to snap a quick photo with him before we went on our way, and I left the TRF table star struck, and so grateful at the same time that I was able to spend a few moments with such a man as Ron Turcotte.

The following is an Associated Press article that I saw the other day about writer Murray Evans’ meeting with Turcotte and his thoughts on the recently released Disney film:

The jockey who rode Secretariat says the film about the equine star “pretty well” captures the story of what happened during the horse's famed run to the 1973 Triple Crown.

Ron Turcotte, who recently visited Remington Park as part of the festivities surrounding the Oct. 10 Oklahoma Derby, acknowledged the filmmakers took some poetic license with the tale but said he “thought it was a very good movie.”

“Secretariat, he had the looks, he had the charm, he had it all,” said the 69-year-old Turcotte, who saw the film for the first time the first week of October in Lexington.

The film, starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich as Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, and trainer, Lucien Laurin, respectively, was released nationally Oct. 8 and finished third at the box office, taking in $12.6 million, according to studio estimates released Oct. 10.

Otto Thorwarth, a former jockey who once rode regularly at Remington Park, Oaklawn Park, River Downs, Turfway Park and other tracks, answered a casting call to play Turcotte in the movie at the encouragement of a friend and didn't think anything would come of it.

“I've never acted a day in my life, other than in front of the (track) stewards,” he said, laughing.

Director Randall Wallace chose him for the part, though. Thorwarth said he only met Turcotte once before attempting to portray the jockey.

“I could tell real quick he was a straight-to-the-point, confident person,” Thorwarth said.

Turcotte, who wasn't consulted on the film, said Thorwarth “did a real good job” capturing his personality, even if some of the scenes featuring Turcotte's character in the film didn't quite happen as filmmakers portrayed.

“Secretariat” does use television footage from the 1973 Preakness Stakes and part of announcer Chic Anderson's call of the Belmont, including his famous line, “He is moving like a tremendous machine,” as Secretariat pulled away from the field.

Turcotte recalls those two races vividly.

“The greatest race was the Preakness,” he said. “I could have won by 15 lengths if I'd wanted to.” Secretariat beat Sham by 2 1/2 lengths in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

In the Belmont, “(Secretariat) had such a nice, rhythmic stride,” said Turcotte. “He was just covering ground. He was doing it so easy. He added that he looked back “one time, at the 5/16ths pole when he called me 20 lengths in front. I could see the crowd and hear the roar.”

Turcotte was paralyzed in a riding accident in 1978. Thirty-seven years after Secretariat's Triple Crown, he said he continues to receive “tons of mail” concerning the horse, who died in 1989 in Kentucky after a bout with laminitis.

“People have been learning about Secretariat since he ran,” he said. “It's just what Secretariat did. He was such a great horse--I really believe the greatest horse that ever lived. I'm not the only one who believes that.”

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Okay, I want to hear what you thought of the Secretariat movie if you have already seen it. Even with the discrepancies and historical inaccuracies, did you feel that the movie gave the story justice?

I also wanted to let you guys know that I spoke with Lisa Yassa of the American Humane Association’s film and TV unit, and she informed me that “Secretariat” had received the organization’s “No Animals Were Harmed” end-credit disclaimer, as well as its highest rating “Monitored: Outstanding.” Please click here for more information.

I wrote a blog awhile back about Thoroughbred actors and how they are trained for movies, so I found this bit of information quite interesting.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

60 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Blue Blue Sea

Turcotte is such a great person - any time I've been blessed to meet him he has been gracious and kind. The movie was overall beautiful and good for the industry, warts and all as they say. Was disappointed that the film was not dedicated to Jim Gaffney (another of the gracious and kind individuals associated with the horse) who passed this year. Would have been nice to see him and Charlie Davis featured as an extra in a scene. Also, why no mention of Secretariat.com and that he died of laminitis - missed opportunities for more research into the disease and for the good work in rehab for the horses once their time on the track is done.

19 Oct 2010 11:25 AM
Richard

As I read all the blogs and comments about the recent Secretariat film it amazes me the impact that this one horse had not only on the world of horse racing but on the world in general. Think about this, 37 years since he won the Belmont and 21 years since his death and people are still talking about this horse like no other. There have been great thoroughbreds in history but you can probably name on one hand the ones the general public would know and the top of that list is Secretariat hands down. I have seen his races countless times and still when I see that Belmont I am in awe. That is not supposed to happen. It defies logic to think a horse could perform at that level after two other grueling races in such a short time span. As for the film, I enjoyed it for what it was, a feel good story about how one horse helped save a farm and touch the hearts of America. It is no documentary certainly, and there are some glaring innacuracies but I would recommend it to anyone.

19 Oct 2010 11:55 AM
Richard

I would like to make one additional comment echoing to some degree what Blue Blue Sea had to say. While Eddie Sweat is portrayed in this film I don't think enough credit is given to him for what a masterful job he did in caring for this horse. Also, from all that I have read Sweat and Secretariat had a very close emotional bond and that is barely touched on in the film. Probably won't ever happen but I would love to see another Secretariat film that focused on this relationship. Eddie was key to Secretariat's success but his role is almost always overlooked and that is a real shame. I bet if Secretariat could speak to it he would agree.

19 Oct 2010 12:03 PM
needler in Virginia

My real problem with the movie is why Disney had to tweak and make the real story "cuter" or "prettier" or sappier; why did they have to mess with the REAL story as lived by Mr Turcotte, Ms Chenery, Mr Sweatt and Mr Laurin AT ALL. Wasn't the REAL story good enough? Holy cow! What more could you want??

Granted, most movie goers won't catch the misses (those misses are NOT what happened and did not "move the story along" or make it more interesting), but there are loads of us who did and do, so why do it? If based on Mr Nack's book wasn't that real enough for 'em? The one thing EVERYONE will catch as truly ridiculous was the phone call to Denver saying Somethingroyal was about to foal, and the next thing we see is the group gathered in the stall watching Big Red slip into the world. Denver to Virginia in time to catch a foaling??? Oh, please.

All that said, if Mr Turcotte is OK with the movie then so am I; after all, he knew Red, was there and was a part of it all. Maybe all the added Disney junk doesn't matter at all...maybe what really matters is that we all got a chance to meet Red again, long after he left us.

Cheers and safe trips.

19 Oct 2010 12:12 PM
GeraldR5

Growing up, my hero was Citation. I lived and died with his every race. Secretariat was also a once in a lifetime horse, and his owner, Penny Tweedy, Lucien Lauren and Ron Turcotte are vital parts of horse-racing history. I LOVED the movie, the three main actors were sensational. But what I particularly loved was the cameo at the end of Mrs. Tweedy. What a memory. What a movie!!!

19 Oct 2010 12:42 PM
DanceSpell

This man got to ride Pegasus--I'm jealous!

19 Oct 2010 1:38 PM
Wayne A. LeBlanc

I did see the movie and enjoyed it very much. I will buy the movie when it goes on sale.  I also can remember watching THE GREAT SECRETARIAT run these races in 1973. I believe he was one of the greatest horses to perform.    

19 Oct 2010 2:04 PM
McSchellRacing

Damn Ron looks good,Havent saw him for at least 10 yrs.I know and hung out with his other brothers,You need to meet Rudy also,What a guy

19 Oct 2010 2:55 PM
marc

Mr Turcotte is a great guy.  Once while at a promotion at the track he was signing items for collectors for $10 each.

He signed 12 of mine for only $110.  Thanks, Ron, you are a great guy!!

19 Oct 2010 3:18 PM
MANDY

THIS MOVIE WAS WONDERFUL AND UPLIFTING.  I DID SEE THE GREAT SECRETARIAT AT CLAIBORNE FARM IN 1987.  HE WAS BEAUTIFUL AND JUST

LOVED BEING WITH US.  I MET MR. TURCOTTE AT A FUNDRAISER IN

CHICAGO.

HE WAS JUST AS NICE AND GRACIOUS AS

I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE.  IT WAS ALL MENT TO BE....SECRETARIAT, RON TURCOTTE AND PENNY CHENERY.

MANDY

I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE.  

19 Oct 2010 3:19 PM
smartycat

I was a spectator at the WEG for 9 days and visited the TRF booth twice. Although I was devastated to learn that I had missed Ron Turcotte, I did have the good fortune to meet Seattle Slew's partner, Jean Cruget; I took full advantage of this surprising & wonderful opportunity, engaging him in a lively conversation, including discussing his current residence & employment (he continues to work Thoroughbreds). He autographed 2 gorgeous photos of Slew's Preakness & Belmont victories for me. What an honor & thrill to be in the unhurried presence of another one of racing's icons. Like you, I tried to visit as many of the vendor booths & non-profit organizations as possible; being able to contribute financially to groups that assist ex & unwanted racehorses & horses in general was extremely satisfying. I've appreciated your WEG posts; thank you for sharing your experiences. My memories will last me a lifetime. I'm already thinking about Normandie in 4 years - - how about you?    

19 Oct 2010 3:19 PM
Boatinggirl

I saw the movie this past weekend. Went in knowing everything that has been said about the inaccuracies and twists of the truth.  I've read everything there is to read about Secretariat.....so I know the whole story.  Even explained a few things to my friends as we watched the movie.  But......everyone in the audience cried and cheered and clapped.  Even me.  Rewrite some of the scenes....certainly.  Show the WHOLE LENGTH of his win at the Belmont and replay the original call.....wished they had.  But it was a good movie and the audience enjoyed it.    

19 Oct 2010 4:03 PM
forenlace

I know the film wasn't accurate but it captured the essence of Secretariat and the unbelievable excitement of the time. I loved the movie and Secretariat is the greatest Thoroughbred ever.

19 Oct 2010 4:05 PM
goodwin

I didn't mind some of the changing of the facts, but I DID think that the writers could have visited a real race and seen the call for "riders up" and other race track customs and incorporated them in the film to make it more accurate. I also felt like the actual accomplishments of Secretariat, his World and stakes records were not as emphasized as they should have been to make the non-race fan aware of just how special he was, and why his legend continues to grow.

19 Oct 2010 4:45 PM
txhorsefan

Thanks for your article about meeting Mr. Turcotte.  What an honor and thrill!  I think his assessment of the movie is very fair.  There were liberties taken, but overall it was a beautiful film celebrating the horse.

19 Oct 2010 5:38 PM
rams2050

Absolutely loved the movie, inaccuracies and all.

No one except racing fanatics will even realize that the story has been shaped to the Disney outline.  It is a feel good story that was good enough to stand on its own merits.  Despite a few shortcomings, which I didn't even care about as they were unfolding (I chose to ignore them in the pursuit of the thrill that is "Secretariat"), I LOVED the movie.

I will buy the DVD -- for myself and my granddaughter.

Secretariat was one of a kind.  I will remember him -- and his races -- always.

19 Oct 2010 5:49 PM
swift

Other than no mention of Secretariat's long stride and huge sized heart how in the world can anyone film the Bemont Stakes at Keenland?

Oh I know. DIZZYNEY!

19 Oct 2010 6:51 PM
mareangel

I have to agree with Blue Blue Sea. The end of the movie made it seem as if Secretariat were still alive. I did love that they used a few frames of the stallion himself, from his retirement, in the end. Just to see the real Secretariat on the big screen gave me chills. But I thought I had read somewhere that Charlie and Jim were extras in the film, maybe I'm wrong though.

I was skeptical that Disney could pull off this film, and for me they didn't. I know it is just a film and not a documentary, but it still bothered me. For me the greatest horseracing film ever made was Phar Lap and to meet those standards, just couldn't be done here. I would also have liked the screen play to have been based on Lawrence Scanlan's "The Horse God Built".

I have high hopes though for when the DVD comes out. I hope there will be some kind of short documentary of Secretariat to clear the air and to bring his story full circle.

19 Oct 2010 7:37 PM
Kristen Ohler

I saw the movie and thought it was great.  I know all about Secretariat having grown up with him and saving all the articles on him from his 3 year old campaign.  I've read books on him and watched alot of his offspring produce and run.  Diane Lane did a fantastic job as Penny Chenery.  The "Secretariats" were very realistic.  The movie did Big Red justice as he so much deserves.  I'm so glad to have been part of an upbringing that was able to be a "part" of this awesome horse.  All of his 3 year old races were on TV and the movie depicted them well.  I'm so glad they finally made a big screen movie after the greatest Throughbred "to ever look through a bridle."  Sorry Bud Delp.  Just wondering, what ever happened to that famous coin that "stuck" Penny with the Big Red horse.

19 Oct 2010 8:07 PM
EUGENE LEVEY

I didnt see the movie but i saw him evry morning when i was stabled at BELMONT PARK IN 1973 back in 1964-5 I was stabled at LAUREL RACE COURSE.. & LO & BEHOLD WHO DO U THINK CAME INTO NIEW...Yes it was RON WHO CAME OUT OF CANADA to ride at LAUREL..NO ONE knew who he was but i did..i was the first trainer at laurel to name him on one of my horses...i think he was 22 or 23 yrs of age back then..nice kid...

19 Oct 2010 8:21 PM
LH1216

I saw the movie with my 4 year old granddaughter. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, but I'm pretty sure I did. Yes, there were many historical inaccuracies, but this wasn't a documentary. It was an inspiring movie about some good people and a great horse.

The question I think is not how accurate the story is, but how good is it for horse racing. This industry needs all of the help it can get.

19 Oct 2010 8:45 PM
Secretariat Fan

I saw the movie the first weekend it was out and I thought it was good but the way they filmed the Belmont did not do him justice.  They should have used the real race footage, I remember that race. I was 15 and just started riding race horses the year before, that race brought tears to my eyes.  I don't think I will ever see another like him in my lifetime.  I would love to meet Ron, and Ms. Chenery as I have always admired them both, he for being able to ride such a magnificent animal and his work with the Disabled Jockey's fund. Ms. Chenery for what she did for women in the good ole boys sport. And I agree with Blue Blue Sea they could have mentioned at the end about his death from laminitis as we loose many from this disease.

19 Oct 2010 8:57 PM
Dino Romano

The movie was a melodramatic drag.  The REAL story was all they had to tell...including the real cast of characters and events.  When will Hollywood EVER make a good horse racing film?  Never.

19 Oct 2010 10:17 PM
Anne from Paramount

Nice to know that Turcotte still gets "tons of mail" about Secretariat. I've seen the movie twice--the second time it was a b/day treat from a friend who is not into racing, but knowing I am and she  "loved" it.  I told her of some of the realities which interested her, and she still thought the movie was great. As for me, yes it tells an entertaining story.  We have to realize it's a Disney film--and hey, it's racing in a very positive light!

19 Oct 2010 11:26 PM
Bellwether

HELL$ BELL$!!!...GET READY FORE ANOTHER TRIPLE DIPPER...ty...

20 Oct 2010 1:08 AM
Central Valley Dame

I thought the movie was a wonderful retelling of the story.  It was not really a story about the horse as it was a story about how one woman would not doubt her instincts and followed through on them.  I remember well how women and girls felt during that time, we were finding our own footing, and "Secretariat" captured the essence of the those changing times.  If the movie had been strictly about the horse I don't think the movie would have been as good.  The horse, Secretariat, was a legend.  The movie kept that legend intact.  The race scenes captured the power and mystique of the Big Red Horse.  It made the movie one of my all time favourites.  And it was eerie to see how close in resemblance the actor was to Eddie Sweat.  Diane Lane captured Penny Chenery to perfection.  John Malkovich was so wonderful (even though he was nothing like Lucien Lauren) and even Otto Thorwarth seemed to capture Ron Turcotte's confidence in the horse and in his abilities.  Such a beautiful film!

20 Oct 2010 1:42 AM
Fran Loszynski

Secretariat if he could speak today would love the way the final turn in the Belmont was portrayed. You sat on the edge of your chair waiting for him to round it.  Ron Turcotte and Secretariat were pals, that's why they won. Two hearts beating down the track.

20 Oct 2010 10:32 AM
MyBigRed

I loved the movie. I agree, I would love to see a movie about Secretariat & Eddie. The photo of Eddie sitting on the wall at Claiborne after Secretariat retired, still makes me cry. Eddie loved that horse so much. I enjoy going to the Secretariat Festival every fall in Paris, Ky & meeting the remaining members of the Secretariat Team. Ron & Penny are True Heros that everyone can look up to :)

20 Oct 2010 10:38 AM
LHart

I loved the movie, but agree it was made to be a little sappy. Does anyone know where the horses that played Secretariat are now?

20 Oct 2010 10:52 AM
Carla

Caught this movie this past weekend I enjoyed the movie and find it interesting many comments here were my thoughts. One was Disney made the movie so I knew it would be sugar coated a bit which think I may have enjoyed it more had it been a little less coated. Not knowing the connections of Big Red I found it totally uplifting and very impressed with Penny Tweedy I had no idea what a bold person she. Not as all as I expected prior to the movie, I was lucky enough to be in her presents and she is a wonder sweet lady I had no idea at the time what a strong bold woman she was in her run with Big Red and her father's farm. Good movie enjoyed it

20 Oct 2010 11:11 AM
minisandfamousmom

haven't seen the movie yet but in November l983 PBS did a story about the Thoroughbred horse.  It was primarily about Secretiariat and how he was biomechanically unable to run that fast.  "That day in June he ran a hole in the wind" sticks in my mind to this day - a tryly great horse he was - I visited his grave in l993 when I went to Ky for a seminar & each derby day Ms. Cheney sends a spray of blue and white carnations and they are on Secretariat's grave behind the office at Claiborne.

20 Oct 2010 12:03 PM
Linda

The movie was entertaining for me because I love racehorses.  But I would have liked the movie even better had they told the story with a little more about the horse.  After all, without Secretariat, there would have been no story to tell.  Love ya Red!

20 Oct 2010 12:05 PM
Shauna H

Saw the movie this past weekend and had only two complaints - 1) why didn't they show more of the original race footage???  It was far more spectacular than a (not nearly as attractive) Secretariat stand-in.  Also, would love to have seen a photo montage at the end with real photos of the team and the horse.

20 Oct 2010 1:06 PM
Kathy Kimber

I loved the movie I loved the horse I loved the add in at the end when he is pulling away in the Belmont and John Malkevick playing Lucien Yells "Fore".  Yes sir a big bullet coming thru.  It didn't happen but it was great in the movie

20 Oct 2010 4:06 PM
Patricia

I've been a horse racing fan and horsewoman since the age of 12. I lived through Big Red's two year old campaign, three year old campaign and four year old campaign. I had the incredible luck of seeing him race in person, twice, and watched all his Triple Crown Races on TV. He is and always will be the greatest equine athlete in racing history...never be another like him. I'll never forget that day in October 1989 when I heard the unbelievable news that Big Red had died from laminitis at the not so ancient age of 18. I've read just about everything ever written about him, including three bios (best one of course, by Bill Knack. I do know his whole story! My impression of the movie? Having lived through his real story, and also knowing quite a bit about the racing industry,it was extremely difficult for me to get past the significant amount of inaccuracies contained in the movie. Disney took a huge "literary/poetic license" with this film, in an attempt to make it cute, sappy, and more appealing. I believe they made it less appealing by doing so. Secretariat's true story needs no help...it is an incredible story all on it's own. Disney focused way too much on Penny Chenery's being a "housewife" fighting the "good old boys" in racing, blah-blah-blah. They attempted to make she and Secretariat underdogs. This could not be further from the truth. Neither the horse nor the woman were underdogs. They both had incredible breeding, and every opportunity to showcase their immense natural talent. While the movie was mildly entertaining, I think Disney could have done a whole lot better by just paying justice to the real story and leaving all the sappiness behind.

20 Oct 2010 4:47 PM
Barbara

Sappy, did NOT do Secretariat himself justice. He was more like an afterthought. Yes, Somthingroyal is foaling, but I can fly to Virginia from Denver and still see Him being born??? Gospel music in the stretch of the Belmont?? Did the Disney people ever hear of RIVA RIDGE??? C'mon, make a movie ABOUT the HORSE! Not the Chenerys, (no disrespect meant to Penny, would just rather it be about Secretariat if it's called SECRETARIAT). I DID like the real William Nack palying a reporter, and Penny herself, and Mike Battaglia. In my humble opinion, it did not showcase the greatness of Himself.

20 Oct 2010 6:23 PM
cfoxo

Big Red didn't have a four year old campaign Patricia.

20 Oct 2010 6:33 PM
Paula Higgins

I think the movie was great and close enough to the reality of the situation when all is said and done. Penny Chenery had plenty of challenges during that period. Sure she was a strong person, but  sacrifices and tough decisions were made. Since Penny is very happy with the film and Ron Turcotte is happy with the film, that is good enough for me.

Ron Turcotte looks great for 69! He is indeed a very fine person and that pciture is a hoot with the three of you. Frankly, I think the real Ron Turcotte radiated more personality than his movie counterpart.

As for Eddie Sweat, I agree that he should have been more prominent. They had an incredible relationship. I do think they tried, but it wasn't integral to the story they were trying to tell and the movie was only so long. But for those of us that know the true story, we know how important Eddie and Secretariat were to each other.

20 Oct 2010 7:32 PM
Ted from LA

Patricia,

I agree with you 100%.  What you fail to understand is that most Americans are idiots.  They love sap and guns.  If they could have trained the horse to shoot a gun, they would have.

20 Oct 2010 7:53 PM
K-Mustang

No one yet has mentioned the fact that the producers of this film made Sham into a villain. I read  that in Steve Haskin's account of this film a few weeks ago. And that is the number one reason I will not waste either my time or my money to watch this film now or buy it when it comes out on DVD. There was absolutely no need for that foolishness. Sham would've won the 1973 Kentucky Derby--and set a record--if he hadn't the misfortune of running against Big Red.  Sham was a tough, honest horse who ran with two broken teeth in that Derby and ran his guts out in all three '73 Triple Crown races. He never raced again after the Belmont. When Sham was retired in July 1973 he had nothing left to give--or prove. He had truly left it all on the track. I love Secretariat.  He is my all-time favorite, along with John Henry, Ruffian,  and Spectacular Bid.  But I will not bother with the antics of these so-called "artists" who never let truth get in the way of a good story. At least give credit where credit is due. RIP, Big Red, and your worthy rival, Sham.

20 Oct 2010 10:22 PM
nina

Loved the movie. I think they should have included the 2 TC victories of the great Riva Ridge since it makes Penny's story more formidable. It will be a long long time before anyone wins 5 TC races in successive years.

20 Oct 2010 10:36 PM
Terri

I seen the movie when it first came out. I enjoyed it very much. Also, reading with fans thoughts and reviews about the movie you can not please every one. The movie follows the Secretariat's Team and how they made him a Champion. A woman in a mans world..Without Penny Chenery we might not have Secretariat. We should be very thankful to her.

Secretariat was a horse the nation looked up to as a hero. There was alot going on in the world at that time...Vietnam War...Watergate...Secretariat was the horse what would take us away of what was going on in our nation and what was happening around the world.

I have read articles and reviews about the movie...especially Penny Chenery..she loved the movie and hope the public likes it as well. How many of you know that Penny was on the set when the movie was made and even in the movie along with her daughter Katy who also loved the movie and saw it more than once...I feel these are the people that really counts on how the movie turned out...the Secretariat Team.

I had the opportunity to hear the author of the book Secretariat- William Nack talk about the horse and the movie. He also enjoyed the movie. He was at the premier at Lexington. Mr Nack knew Secetariat inside out...amazing stories he told about "Big Red".

Keep a open mind when you see the movie...enjoy it.  When you watch it see if you can spot Penny Chenery and her daughter Katy in the movie....they were extras in the movie.

21 Oct 2010 6:26 AM
Convene

I loved it! I was watching the day he won the Belmont and it still puts chills down my spine. He was the Man o' War of my lifetime and I am so blessed to have seen him. Okay, there was some artistic licence with the film but it did not taint the true values and the true glory of the story. It was what it was. I think maybe we all need to remember what Penny said to Secretariat before the Belmont (and those of us who are females old enough to recall that time when we weren't really capable people - well, not QUITE anyway) can understand everything she meant when she told the horse, "I didn't give up. I ran my race. Now you run yours." As someone who has changed just a little of the world north of the border (in one field anyway), it's something I've always believed in too. Just because it's impossible doesn't mean you shouldn't go all out to get it done. Penny did - and the rest is history. Many cheers for this wonderful movie of such a cherished part of my life too. I'm on my way out to look for the DVD because this movie  is a memory well portrayed.

21 Oct 2010 12:46 PM
Cleone

Penny also did a much shorter interview with the "Colorado Morning News" show on the same station, which you can hear here:

850koa.com/.../cmn.html

21 Oct 2010 2:34 PM
Dwight New

The movie was great, I'm in it.

But, the stars are that most magnificent Thoroughbred, Secretariat and his owner, the sweet, Penny Chenery.

Diane Lane does a wonderful job portraiting her.I recommend the movie to everyone, not just horse racing fans.

Dwight

21 Oct 2010 9:49 PM
philco

Saw the movie and really enjoyed it.   As others have mentioned, the Belmont sequence (filmed at Keeneland) was blasphemous.   The inconic still photo of the Belmont should have been incorporated as well.  And i totally agree with Shauna H; a better, kickin' montage of historical photos set to better music would been a nice capper.    

Still, this film moved me a lot and that to me...are what movies are supposed to do.   And Diane Lane was OUTSTANDING as usual.  

Eddie Sweat's solo, but confident pronouncement on the dawn of Derby Day was my favorite moment in this movie.   The groom/horse relationship remains the most special and sacred in the game in my humble opinion.    

I give the film a solid B

21 Oct 2010 10:33 PM
Rachel

I agree with Ron Turcotte, though, that the portrayal of Pancho Martin was very hurtful (and Sham, too) and undeserved. That's why I won't give my $$$ to this movie...I despise character assasination.

22 Oct 2010 10:40 AM
Peggy

I saw the movie with my granddaughters (age 4 and 7).  I wanted them to know and love one of my heroes, Secretariat.  Unfortunately, the movie was too long on dialogue and too short on the actual horse story.  I agree with the prior bloggers who said that the relationship between Eddie Sweat and Secretariat should have been shown rather than have Eddie at Meadow Farm (where he never worked).  He appears to be an employee of Penny Chenery when actually he worked for Lucien Lauren at Belmont.  The foaling scene bothered me too. It doesn't make sense to even non-horse people that Penny, Eddie and Lucien would be there for that, especially Penny flying from Denver for it.

The measure of the movie will ultimately be how many people will go to see it.  I think that the hard core Secretariat fans will go, but I don't think that it will create a new generation of fans like the Seabiscuit movie did.  

22 Oct 2010 1:49 PM
Barbara W

I've just seen the movie for the second time and loved it just as much. Everyone I have dragged with me has loved it as well.

I do agree that Sham should not have been made a villain, but I think the relationship of Red with Eddie Sweat was tenderly portrayed. Trying to tell a horse AND human story at the same time can be a daunting task, given the attention spans of most viewers. I say, "Job well done!"

I own the books by Bill Nack and Kate, but I've not bought Eddie's yet. Has anyone read it?

So glad to see Ron Turcotte looking so good.

22 Oct 2010 8:34 PM
Tommy

I notice that there is only one criticism of the use of Oh Happy  Day as the song heralding the impending victory of Big Red at Belmont.  It may not be traditional racing music but it is a song I have always loved and found very emotionally uplifting.  It served that purpose here in signaling a most happy day for a great set of characters in the history of horse racing.

23 Oct 2010 2:43 PM
Gary

My wife and I saw the movie yesterday and I have to say it was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Diane Lane always does a good job and in this movie she was great. The critics in the Chicago Tribune, some of whom gave the movie 1 and 1/2 stars must have been watching some other movie. It is a 3 1/2 star movie, glad we seen it.

23 Oct 2010 3:03 PM
needler in Virginia

If anyone believes that Ms Chenery gave that "pep talk" to the horse, you need to get a grip; she had more than enough to do before the races, as the press had her smothered from dawn to dawn and there were no free moments for solitude OR a talk with the Big Red One. Poor woman had enough on her plate, but then again, this IS Disney, so why am I NOT surprised? And to those complaining about not enough horse: it's tough to tell a horse story without seeing and hearing the connections that got the horse to the track. The ONLY time a "talking" horse has worked was in "Black Beauty" (THE BOOK) and the talking part didn't work in any of the movies. Big Red did all his talking on the track and we all remember how well he spoke to us!

While I can barely speak about the portrayal of Sham as villain...you REALLY don't want me going on THAT........the one thing that really bugs me the most is the Belmont as portrayed.... Keeneland? I LOVE Keeneland, but Belmont it is NOT. Second, why not just show us the horse and let us hear the heartbeats and the hoof beats WITHOUT that ridiculous song??? Who needs it? Ask Mr Turcotte what HE remembers, and I'd bet he'd say "my heart beating and the sound of Red's hooves........that's about it."

Color me snarky tonight; I just have a load of trouble with Disney falsifying a story that so many of us clearly remember. It might have been better if this were the story of horse that none of us had seen and loved....maybe one from 100 years ago. That way NO ONE could complain about what Disney got wrong. Again, I ask......what is wrong with the REAL story??? Ye Gods!!

OK, rant over......

Cheers and safe trips.

23 Oct 2010 11:27 PM
DEB

All true stories that are made into movies are going to have some if not a lot of inaccuracies…but:

As an avid horse lover and owner – I saw the movie today 10.24.2010 and thought it was a great movie.  After the movie I did some research on the movie.  Finding out that they did use actual footage of Secretariat’s races, I did this research because all through the movie I could not figure out how they could duplcate this.  Granted there are computer generated movies and inhancements so I had to try to find out if they did this in this movie.  

Copied from the article from which everyone is comenting on:  The writer of this article says: ““Secretariat” does use television footage from the 1973 Preakness Stakes and part of announcer Chic Anderson's call of the Belmont, including his famous line, “He is moving like a tremendous machine,” as Secretariat pulled away from the field.”

This was a great movie and sort of kept to the life and time of this One and Only Great racehorse that ever lived. Yes I agree they did focus a lot on Penny about being a housewife and this and that but remember she also became the first lady of Thoroughbred racing.  Back in the day it was all about the men that owned thoroughbreds.  However, I do feel they touch on the most important parts of this horses life.

I remember actually watching this horse on TV running all three races in 1973.  I believe that there will NEVER be another horse to do what Secretariat did.  This horse had a BIG heart and willingness like no other.  The movie is great for any audience.  However, if someone doesn’t know about horses or horseracing they might be a little lost in understanding what Secretariat is all about.  I do recommend this movie and if you are not familiar with horseracing or the Great Secretariat – do research before going and seeing it.  

I believe if they went on and on about everything that happened during the course of this horses life the movie would have been extremly long and would have lost interest of people.    Granted Secretariat lived until he was 19 years of age and if they had put all that into a movie with all his races after the triple crown up to his death and attempting to explain laminitis to someone that doesn’t know horses would not have held the interest of everyone that goes to see it. The place that I saw the movie everyone that was there throughly enjoyed it.  

Secretariat will always be a name that everyone will remember because his still holds to this day all three tract records.  There will never be another horse like him.

Thought it was very well done.

24 Oct 2010 6:40 PM
DEB

Sorry everyone there is one thing that I would like to mention.  Before everyone goes off on the deep end here... Do some research on this famous horse.  

When he died there was an autospy done on him... Like I said, this horse is one of a kind and here is why.

This is quoted from the St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 1999

Dr. Thomas Swerczek, a professor of veterinary science at the University of Kentucky, performed the autopsy.

All of Secretariat's vital organs were normal in size except for the heart. The typical horse's heart weighs 81/2 pounds. Secretariat's weighed 22 pounds.

"This was a heart completely out of anybody's league," Swerczek said. "Looking back to what he had done, it was easy to put a connection to it. ... The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine."

This just gives anyone that is interested a little insite.

I still think it was a GREAT movie and if given the opportunity I would love to meet the actual people in this horses life.  I know that some have since passed but the ones that are still with us I would love to meet.

24 Oct 2010 7:00 PM
Esther Marr

Thanks for all your comments, everyone...I've enjoyed hearing all your thoughts, positive and negative:)

I was just thinking about how I had the pleasure of interviewing Diane Lane on the red carpet at this year's Kentucky Derby. Here's the video if you haven't already seen it:

www.youtube.com/watch

Love her!

25 Oct 2010 9:57 AM
JIM

My wife and I saw Secretariat run the Preakness. We still have a photo on the wall of our den she took of him during the post parade while she was sitting on my shoulders. He was a beautiful shiny red in the late afternoon sun. We just saw the movie and loved it. The stretch run at The Belmont still sends chills down my spine.

29 Oct 2010 11:34 PM
sarah

the movie was good about secreatriat but charlie davis was only shown 2 time

01 Nov 2010 11:18 PM
Harold Silver

My wife and I saw Secretariat today. Thoroughly enjoyed the film. Excellent casting with John Makovich

stealing every scene he is in. Made us curious as to what happened to the principals as well as to Secretariat and saddened as to what happened to the jockey afterwards.

Did not anticipate the drama involved nor the expertise demonstrated in the film making.Definitely a go see movie.

23 Nov 2010 10:24 PM
morgan

dear ron love was a wife and will

have kids together

20 Apr 2011 7:18 PM
Love horses

I watched Secretariat's Belmont Stakes race on television in Puerto Rico, my country of origin. I was 11 years old at the time. My family was very fond of horse races and everybody got together to watch it. I still get goosebumps remembering that historic race. I loved the Disney movie very much, in part because it reminds me how rare and special it was to have lived that particular moment in time. I wish Ron all the best! Thanks for being always so gracious in sharing your memories of your time with Secretariat.

08 Jun 2012 2:01 PM

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