Eight of the Best Horse Racing Films You Need to Watch

If you are a fan of horseracing, chances are that you wouldn’t mind catch a good racing related flick here or there. While some movies are fictional, others are very much based in truth. Whether you are looking to learn a little bit more about the history of horseracing or you are just looking for a good story to watch, here are ten of the best horse racing films.

  1. pharlap1__jpg_422x180_crop_q85Phar Lap (1983): This movie is based on the true story of an Australian racehorse that became a champion with the help of a local stable boy. The movie beautifully explores the relationship between the horse Phar Lap and Tommy Woodcock. The horse became an Australian hero who eventually came to the United States and then raced in Tiajuana. The film portrays the mysterious death of the horse. Was he poisoned intentionally? Was he poisoned accidentally? You will have to check out the movie to explore the story more.
  1. Secretariat (2010): This film, which was produced by Disney, portrays Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, who agrees to take over her ailing father’s stables, despite her lack of horse racing knowledge. With the help of a veteran trainer by the name of Lucien Laurin, Chenery learns to navigate the male dominated business, and helps to develop the first Triple Crown winner in twenty-five years, and one of the best racehorses of all time.
  1. Let it Ride (1989): An American comedy film starring Richard Dreyfuss, which is loosely based on the novel Good Vibes by Jay Cronley. This is a light-hearted comedy, which makes it stand out from many of the serious horse racing movies that are out there. This story is based on a gambler who is habitually unsuccessful who experiences a day in which is successful at every bet that he places.
  1. still-of-kelly-reno-in-the-black-stallion-(1979)-large-pictureThe Black Stallion (1979): When traveling with his father, young Alec becomes enamored with a mysterious Arabian horse that is brought aboard the ship that they are traveling on. When the ship sinks, Alec and the horse are stranded on an isolated desert island alone. Alec and the horse form a deep bond, and when they are finally rescued, they both return back to Alec’s home. Alec meets Henry Dailey, who used to be a very successful trainer.  Alec and Henry begin training the Black Stallion to race against some of the fastest horses in the world.
  1. Sea Biscuit (2003): This film is based on the true story of the undersized horse that raced during the Depression in the United States. The victories that the horse and his rider experienced lifted the morale of a team as well as an entire nation during an extremely trying time.
  1. Hidalgo (2004): This movie takes us farther back in to time to the 1800’s. This movie is a biographical western film based on the legend of the American distance rider, Frank Hopkins, and his mustang Hidalgo. In 1891, the down and out Hopkins travels to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross-desert horse race.
  1. 3b_d__0_RuffianRuffian (2007): An ESPN film released in 2007 that was made for television only. The film tells the true story of U.S. Racing Hall of Fame Champion thoroughbred “Filly Ruffian” who went undefeated in her career until her final race. After breaking down and dying in a nationally televised match at Belmont Mark in 1975 against the Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish pleasure.
  1. The Killing (1956): This old school film is about as gritty as they come, but is certainly worth a view.  In the movie, a gang of greedy petty criminals plan a horse racing track robbery. However, their plan gets foiled and everything turns in to a disaster. The race features a murder of a racehorse. This black and white film features an incredible simple race track and an extremely low budget, yet the bold plot is still strong enough to capture viewer attention today.
Growing up in Louisville, it was hard for me to escape all things horse racing. With a father who made it his yearly tradition to go out and bet on the Kentucky Derby and his weekly tradition to sip on some honey and bourbon, play the guitar and talk about all of the horse races happening throughout the year with his drinking buddies, I grew up with the talk of horse racing in my blood. This tradition and culture has followed me in to my thirties.