The quest for the Triple Crown begins on May 6 when the 149th 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.
Horse racing has spurred 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.
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.
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).
“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.
“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.
“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.
Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published in 2015.