Secretariat movie will invoke special memories for everyone

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There are moments in sports history never to be forgotten, and one of those is Secretariat’s 31-length triumph in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

The Walt Disney Co. is releasing its new film, “Secretariat,” on Oct. 8, which tells the story of a determined owner, Penny Chenery, a flamboyant trainer, Lucien Laurin, and a Triple Crown horse that seemingly had wings.

I watched a screening on Tuesday, and to see the grace, power and majesty of thoroughbreds up close was a reminder how intoxicating the sport truly is.


Most memorable are the closeups of the horses’ eyes. You wonder what they are thinking and feel their emotion.

I was 14 in 1973 and remember being in awe how a horse could be so dominant with so much on the line in a singular performance that still stands as the fastest time for 1-1/2 miles in Belmont Stakes history.

Horse racing fans will cherish the movie, as will those who grew up in the 1970s. Fans of actor John Malkovich will rave about his funny, quirky portrayal of trainer Laurin.

And the movie comes out just as another super horse, the unbeaten mare Zenyatta, is writing her own movie script, being 18 for 18 while preparing to end her career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

If Secretariat and Zenyatta were to race, who would win?

It would be the race of any century.

-- Eric Sondheimer