Like baseball and football, Hollywood has had an affinity with horse racing movies. From “National Velvet” to “Seabiscuit” to “The Black Stallion” there has been something about a sport that combines graceful and beautiful thoroughbreds with the ability to get rich quick that has intrigued moviegoers. Now, Walt Disney is bringing the story of one of the most famous champions ever to the big screen in “Secretariat.”
Directed by Randall Wallace (“We Were Soldiers”), the bio pic tells the story of Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) who won racing’s prestigious triple crown in 1973 behind the speed and strength of Secretariat. John Malkovich is also in the fold as legendary trainer Lucien Laurin. The film doesn’t hit theaters until Oct. 8, but Disney has released some new stills in anticipation of the Kentucky Derby this Sunday and the news that – surprise – Lane and Chenery will serve as Grand Marshals of the Derby’s annual 2010 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade tomorrow.
Footage of “Secretariat” was previewed for press at an overall studio presentation from new Disney chief Rich Ross last week. While this pundit wasn’t in attendance, a trusted source said it seemed “Blind Side”-ish and perhaps not as classy as the Oscar-nominated “Seabiscuit.” Considering “Blind” was able to snag one o the 10 nominations this past year, don’t put it past a crowd-pleasing “Secretariat” to do the same.