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Watch these five movies to get in the horse racing spirit ahead of the Kentucky Derby

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The quest for the Triple Crown begins on May 4 when the 150th Kentucky Derby gets underway.

The “most exciting two minutes in sports” is the first leg of the fabled Triple Crown of horse racing, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Only 13 horses have won all three races, most recently Justify in 2018.



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Secretariat, famous for being the first to crack the two-minute time in the Kentucky Derby, won the 99th Derby in just one minute, 59 seconds. He would repeat his record breaking streaks at the Belmont, winning the one and a half mile race in two minutes, 24 seconds, 31 lengths ahead of the second place finisher and being the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.


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Richard A. McGrath, Jr., great nephew of the late J. Price McGrath, poses with an authentic painting of Aristides. Aristides is easily known as the winner of the first Kentucky Derby on May 17th, 1875, crossing the wire in just two minutes and 37 seconds.


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Iron Liege, right, edges out Gallant Man at the finish line to win the Kentucky Derby horse race in this May 4, 1957 photo at Churchill Downs. According to Derby historians, Iron Leige won by just a nose after Gallant Man’s jockey, Bill Shoemaker, misjudged the finish line and stood up to celebrate his “victory” just a moment too soon.


AP
Secretariat, famous for being the first to crack the two-minute time in the Kentucky Derby, won the 99th Derby in just one minute, 59 seconds. He would repeat his record breaking streaks at the Belmont, winning the one and a half mile race in two minutes, 24 seconds, 31 lengths ahead of the second place finisher and being the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.


AP
Jockey Jean Cruguet, aboard Seattle Slew, rises in the saddle looking back as he drives his mount across the finish line at Churchill Downs to win the 103rd Kentucky Derby May 7, 1977. Seattle Slew followed Secretariat as the second Triple Crown winner of the 70s after a quarter century.


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Affirmed, with jockey Steve Cauthen up, crosses the finish line to win the 104th running of the Kentucky Derby, May 6, 1978. Affirmed, the third yearling to win the Triple Crown during the 70s, would also be the last for the next 37 years.


Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Barbaro, ridden by jockey Edgar Prado, crosses the finish line to win the 132nd Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2006. Despite his five-week break from racing before the Derby, Barbaro was still the second-favorite to win among fans. He finished six and a half lengths ahead of the second place finisher.


Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Mine That Bird crosses the finish line with his jockey, Calvin Borel, to win the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009, at Churchill Downs. The three-year-old gelding, far from the favorite to win the Derby that year, only caught up from the back at the last turn of the race, managing to squeeze ahead of the group to win 6 lengths ahead of the second place finisher.


Invision for Longines via AP
Jockey Victor Espinoza, on American Pharaoh, celebrates his third Kentucky Derby victory at the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 2, 2015. American Pharaoh would go on to break a four-decades long drought in Triple Crown wins, adding a blanket of black-eyed Susans from Preakness and a blanket of white carnations from Belmont to his Kentucky Derby roses.

Horse racing has inspired many big screen features over the last century, from the Marx Brother’s “A Day at the Races” (1937) to “Boots Malone” (1953), “The Black Stallion” (1979) and “Dreamer” (2005).

Here are five movies about horses and horse racing sure to put you in the mood for Saturday’s gallop to the winner’s circle.

“Secretariat” (2010)

In 1973 the titular, record-breaking thoroughbred won the Triple Crown for the first time in 25 years and set race records in all three events – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

All three records still stand today.

While this Disney movie celebrates the animal that became known as “America’s Superhorse,” it also focuses on his owner Penny Tweedy (Diane Lane), a housewife and mother who, with little training experience, takes over management of the family thoroughbred farm after her mother’s death and her father (Scott Glenn) becomes ill.

With the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), Tweedy fosters Secretariat into the winner’s circle, the history books, and the hearts of Americans.

“Seabiscuit” (2003)

Based on the book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand (“Unbroken”), this biopic follows the undersized thoroughbred whose track victories propelled him to become a symbol of hope to Americans during the Great Depression.

First brought to the big screen in 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit,” the tale was recreated by Universal Pictures in 2003 and focused on three men: jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), owner Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges) and trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper).

Seabiscuit (2003) Theatrical Trailer

“National Velvet” (1944)

This Technicolor gem stars Mickey Rooney, Angela Lansbury, Donald Crisp and a young Elizabeth Taylor.

Taylor plays Velvet Brown, who wins a spirited gelding in a raffle in her small English town and decides to train him for the Grand National Steeplechase with the help of a former jockey (Rooney) who has a checkered past.

The film was awarded two Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Revere) and Best Film Editing; made Taylor a household name; and spawned the 1978 sequel “International Velvet” starring Tatum O’Neal, Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins.

National Velvet (1944) Original Trailer [HD]

“Phar Lap” (1983)

This movie chronicles the story of the much-loved Australian racehorse Phar Lap and the stable hand Tommy Woodcock (Tom Burlinson) who helps set the thoroughbred on a course to victory.

Phar Lap raced to stardom in the 1930s, winning the Melbourne Cup and 22 other weight-for-age races. His final victory was at the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time.

At the time of Phar Lap’s death in 1932, he was the third highest stakes winner in the world.

Phar Lap (1983) ORIGINAL TRAILER

“Let It Ride” (1989)

Richard Dreyfus stars in this comedy that focuses more on betting than the actual racing.

As the aptly named Jay Trotter, Dreyfus is a down-on-his-luck cab driver who gets a hot racing tip and wins big.

And then wins big again. And again. But will his winning streak last?

In bringing to life a day at the track, including all the weird and wonderful hangers-on, Dreyfus leads a band of character actors that includes Teri Garr, David Johansen, Jennifer Tilly, Cynthia Nixon, Allen Garfield and Robbie Coltrane.

Let It Ride (1989) Original Trailer [FHD]

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published in 2015.

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