In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground ...Secretariat is a 2010 film about the eponymous chestnut racehorse (by Bold Ruler out of Somethingroyal), who rose out of the ashes of a fallen-from-grace racing stable to bring home the first Triple Crown trophy in twenty-five years with a thirty-one length victory in the Belmont and who destroyed every relevant race and track record on the books as he did so. The reason for this is one woman: his owner Penny Chenery, daughter of the aging, frail owner of Meadow Stables. Along with trainer Lucien Laurin, groom Eddie Sweat, and jockey Ron Turcotte, Chenery guided Secretariat through his two- and three-year-old seasons and produced arguably the greatest American racehorse to ever live.The film stars Diane Lane as Penny Chenery and John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin.
This movie contains examples of:
- All Girls Like Ponies: Diane Lane, who portrays Penny in the movie, admitted in an interview that this was part of why she took the part.
- Artistic License: There is absolutely no mention of Riva Ridge, winner of the 1972 Derby and Belmont and Secretariat's stablemate, who saved Meadow Stables the year before Secretariat made his Triple Crown bid. This is because it's more exciting with everything riding on Secretariat's success.
- As the Good Book Says: The movie opens with a rather relevant quote from the book of Job.
- Automaton Horse: Actually, invoked by announcer Chic Anderson's immortal line: "He is moving like a TREMENDOUS machine!"
- Based On The Impossible True Story: While dramatic license was taken with some elements, including leaving out Chenery's sister Margaret and Secretariat's stablemate Riva Ridge, this film sharply averts this trope. Racing fans will check and the filmmakers knew this, right down to recreating Secretariat's famous star-and-stripe markings.
- Berserk Button: Do not tell Penny Chenery to keep her nose out of racing because it's "none of [her] business," and don't tell her to Stay in the Kitchen. She will do neither, and then she will have her horse beat the pants off yours.
- Do not imply that Secretariat is anything less than perfection around Ron Turcotte. Ever.
- Cast the Expert: Ron Turcotte was played by a jockey named Otto Thorwarth.
- Cool Horse: In racing, it doesn't get much cooler.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Belmont, obviously. He set a record of 2:24 flat for the mile-and-a-half on dirt; to this day no horse has broken 2:25, anywhere, ever. His 31-length victory was the largest winning margin in the history of American thoroughbred racing until 2014.note
- Determinator: Penny Chenery.Reporter: The only thing she hates worse than talking about herself is backing down.
- Foregone Conclusion: We all know precisely how things turn out. That this film can still have us white-knuckled on the edge of our seats is a true testament to the filmmakers and actors alike.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: The owners and jockey of Sham.
- Miracle Rally: Averted. Secretariat was the odds-on favorite going into the Belmont. (If you'd bet $10 on Secretariat to win, you'd have walked away only $1 richer.) What nobody expected, of course, was just how thoroughly he would dominate the field. Seriously — nobody saw that coming. In fact, as seen in the film, most people were worried that Sham was pushing Secretariat too fast too early — the quarter-mile speeds for that Belmont are among the fastest on record. Turcotte made the counterintuitive but brilliant decision to stop holding Secretariat back, and as soon as he did, Secretariat left Sham in the dust.
Penny: Let him run, Ronnie! Let him run!
- Although it looks like it's played straight in the races themselves, with Red's habit of hanging out in the rear for the first two-thirds of the race.note
- Nice Hat: To Canadian audiences at least, Lucien Laurin with his crazy quilt hats looks like nothing less than the Don Cherry of horse racing.
- Obviously Evil: Sham's owner.
- Oh Crap!: The expression on Sham's owner's face as Secretariat decides to stop cruising and really run can only be described as this.Pancho Martin: That's impossible!
- Many of the reporters had this feeling when they saw the pace Secretariat was setting from the beginning of the Belmont.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: Though not as bad as some action movies, the blues in this movie are very blue, and the oranges are very orange.
- Oscar Bait: Someone just give Diane Lane the nomination already, okay?
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: The Kentucky Derby.Ronnie Turcotte: I'm sick of this dirt. Let's get rollin'!
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Quite a few things are tweaked, but Secretariat's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes are done full justice.
- Real Men Wear Pink: The rest of Lucien Laurin's outfit is screaming loud as well.
- Real Person Cameo: The real-life Penny Chenery, still alive and kicking at 86 (at the time of filming; still around in 2015 at 93), is in the crowd at the Belmont, right next to the film versions of Secretariat's team.
- Rearing Horse: Played for dramatic effect in the trailer, although the horse is not actually Secretariat.
- Shown Their Work
- Stay in the Kitchen: Penny naturally turns this into You Go Girl.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Beating Sham by 1 or 2 lengths in the Belmont Stakes would have been sufficient, and 10 would have been incredible. Secretariat defeated him by an overwhelming thirty-one lengths, and never stopped accelerating until the race was well and truly over, to the point where he set a track record for the mile and five-eighths while coasting out from under the wire.
- Slightly different from the real 1973 Belmont—while Secretariat indeed won by 31 lengths, the second-place horse was Twice a Prince. Sham finished last in the five-horse field, another 14 lengths farther back.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: There's hints that Laurin has — well, possibly more-than-friendly feelings for Penny Chenery; particularly implied in the scene at the Belmont Ball.
- Worthy Opponent: In real life, Sham was this; the film chose to play up his owner and rider as jerks instead.