Secretariat (2010) Poster



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Not only did Secretariat set the record for the fastest time at the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), each of his quarter-mile splits were faster than the preceding one, which means he was still accelerating at the end of the race. His split times were: 25 1/5, 24, 23 4/5, 23 2/5, and 23.
The racing scenes in Secretariat (2010) are all recreations except one: the Preakness which is seen on an old TV in the Tweedy family den. That's historical footage of the actual race.
Five horses played the part of Secretariat. "Trolley Boy", the principle horse used was selected by Penny Chenery in a Secretariat look-alike contest in Kentucky, and even walked the Red Carpet at the film premiere in Hollywood. The five horses, four thoroughbreds and a quarter horse were made up with special makeup to replicate the three "white socks", facial stripe and star.
In the Belmont Stakes, both Secretariat's winning margin (31 lengths) and his winning time (2:24) still stand after 37 years.
Otto Thorwarth, Secretariat's jockey, is a real jockey who was born in Arkansas, but spent his early life in Canada. He had to work to lose his Canadian accent for the film. The other jockeys are also real jockeys; there was much riding to be done and actors couldn't get the horses to perform as required, gauging the distances needed for the various wins, places, and shows. The director says the distances are accurate to within 1/2 length in each recreation.
The horse used in most of the closeups was named "Longshot". Although "Trolley Boy" looked more like Secretariat overall, Longshot was deemed more "close-up friendly."
Penny Chenery was on set for much of the filming. She was absent when she took an afternoon nap, but otherwise was there each morning and later in the day.
Secretariat's time at Pimlico for the Preakness was originally set at 1:54 2/5. The official clock at Pimlico was having issues that day and race officials settled on that time. Several racing forum writers with their own clocks had Secretariat at a faster time. At the request of Penny Chenery and the president of Pimlico Tom Chuckas, the Maryland Racing Commission agreed to review the race. On June 19, 2012, the commission officially changes the time for Secretariat's run to 1:53. Secretariat now owns the fastest times for all 3 Triple Crown races.
The Triple Crown trophy seen after the 3rd race is the actual trophy, not a replica. It was loaned to the production by the Kentucky Derby Museum, and was human-accompanied on the trip from museum to film set and back.
Secretariat's time in the Kentucky Derby is still the record for that race (1:59 2/5). Only one other horse has won it in under two minutes (2001, Monarchos, 1:59.97). Sham, second to Secretariat, may have run it in under two minutes, but there is no official time for him.
Some of the closeup shots of the racing horses were achieved by attaching lightweight digital cameras to sticks and positioning them close to the horses as they galloped around the track. The horses got used to it, but the jockeys were sometimes startled by them.
The scene where Penny Chenery can't make it to Kate's play, listens on the phone, and collapses in sobs on the hotel bed was done in one take. Randall Wallace said he was so emotionally involved in the scene he couldn't have shot another one.
The words that Diane Lane speaks at the end of the film are from the book of Job, Chapter 39, when God is describing horses. Verse 22: "It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword." Verse 24: "In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds."
Diane Lane called the blond wig that she wore "Peaches." The hairstyle was modeled after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and pictures of the former First Lady were tacked up all over the makeup trailer.
After Ronnie has mounted Secretariat and they are on their way from the paddock to the post parade at the Belmont, Lucien shouts something to Ronnie in French which is not translated for the audience. He is saying, "Use your own judgment, Ronnie."
In August 1972 Arthur Hancock fell ill while hunting in Scotland. He died a few weeks later of pancreatic cancer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
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In the film, Diane Lane's character is a reluctant, naive thoroughbred owner looking for team players to take over Secretariat's racing career. In real life, her jockey, trainer, groom, and exercise rider had worked for the Meadow Stable for years, and all had been through the Triple Crown campaign one year earlier. The year before, their 3-year-old horse, Riva Ridge, won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and finished fourth in the Preakness as the 3 to 5 favorite when the track came up 'sloppy'.
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Before the start of the Belmont Stakes, Bill Nack remarks to another reporter "Got a couple thousand you can lend me?" This is referring to the virtual sure bet on Secretariat in the race.

Actually, Secretariat went off at a 1-10 favorite and only paid $2.20 on a $2.00 wager. So a bet of $2000 dollars would only garner a $200 payout, hardly a killing considering the amount needed to wager. In fact, some 5,000 bettors never redeemed their $2 tickets, keeping them as souvenirs.
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Nelsan Ellis (groom Eddie Sweat) was nuzzled, bitten in the stomach, and once even got stomped on by the horse during the production.
35 horses were used in total during the making of the film.
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Received barely any promotion in the UK - where the Secretariat story is barely known - and was withdrawn from British cinemas after just one week.
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The final race of The Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes, was not filmed at Belmont Race Course. It was actually filmed at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
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This film inspired a running gag on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005). Whenever the name Secretariat was mentioned, a doorbell would ring, followed immediately by two men in a crude horse costume trotting around the stage while Ferguson danced in the background. On Ferguson's last episode, he revealed that Bob Newhart played the horse.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Penny Chenery: in the crowd as Secretariat' wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown.
There are no opening credits at the beginning of the movie after the title. They just said " Walt Disney Pictures Presents Secretariat" at the beginning of the movie.
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