While steaming from Honolulu to Los Angeles the owner of a prize racehorse headed for the Santa Anita Handicap is killed, apparently kicked to death by his stallion. Not so, deduces Charlie. Later he exposes efforts to fix a race at the famous track. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the climactic race begins, only half of the horses announced (Gringo, Wild Bill, Shrapnel, Gallant Lad, Golden Fleece, Elsie Lee, Avalanche, Hold Away) match the names seen earlier on the odds board (Golden Fleece, Money Maker, Shrapnel, Blue Boy, Court Jester, Gallant Lad, Avalanche, Pico). See more »
The tragic story of Phar Lap the great Australian thoroughbred who was imported to the Northern Hemisphere and poisoned by gamblers seems to be the basis for this Charlie Chan film. It's a bit happier an ending for the horse Avalanche who is the focus of the investigation.
Which starts in Charlie Chan At The Racetrack in Melbourne where Avalanche has just won the Melbourne Cup as did Phar Lap. Despite threats from a gambling syndicate, owner George Irving is bringing him to America to race at Santa Anita. On the ship bringing Avalanche and his stablemate Gallant Lad to America, Irving is kicked to death by his horse when he visited him in his shipboard stall. When the ship docks in Honolulu Warner Oland goes on board along with son Keye Luke to investigate.
Oland establishes that the horse was not the guilty party pretty quickly, but the problem of the gamblers and whatever nefarious scheme they have in mind is still there. They've even got a backup plan which almost works when it is put into play. Let's say like the real life Phar Lap, Avalanche is a game horse with a great heart.
Charlie Chan At The Racetrack is one of the best of Charlie Chan features. Other than the patronizing stereotypical portrait of the black groom the film holds up well for today's audiences.
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