We Handicap Our Own Kentucky Derby With Movie Race Horses

Saturday, May 5 by
They're fast, yes. But are they 'Hidalgo' fast?  

The Kentucky Derby is just a few days away, which, coincidentally means that we’re days away from many of you getting dressed in suits and drinking mint juleps until you vomit in your dates’ hats. Get excited.

In honor of the day-drinking pseudo-event, we at Screen Junkies, LLC have put together a derby of our own. We’re taking the racehorses of film and pitting them against one another, handicapping their odds of victory. We’ll call it “The Hollywood Derby,” because Hollywood is a place where many of these films were made. Also, it’s just sort of a nice catch-all for all things entertainment while also being a geographical place where a derby could be held. Duh.



While Seabiscuit is proven steed with a champion’s gait, avoid this one at all costs. Seasbiscuit is the most prominent horse racing film in recent memory, so expect the casual bettors to go hard and heavy with the only name they know. Granted, it’s hard to find a smaller, more dainty jockey than Tobey Maguire, but Seabiscuit will be such a heavy favorite of the bunch that the risk won’t supersede the payout.

This is what we in the horseracing community (I’m very active in the horseracing community, btw) call a sucker’s bet. Steer clear of Seabiscuit.

Also, a groundless prediction: While in the lead, jockey Tobey Maguire gets thrown from his horse and trampled by every other horse in the field. The odds on that are 20-3.

The Piebald (National Velvet)


I can’t speak for everyone, but one of the most infuriating things about horseracing (and boats) is that the owners are given an opportunity to drop the most badass monikers on their prized possessions, but 90% of the time it’s some stupid cryptic phrase like “Skip Away” or “Believe You Can” or “Proud Citizen.” Those last two are horses in this year’s Derby.

I’m aware that The Piebald from National Velvet is named after its coloring, which is piebald. I’m also aware that this is stupid. Whatever. It’s not the horses fault, I guess.

What is the horses fault is that The Piebald is a steeplechase horse, so unless they toss in some jumping fences and ditches, The Piebald is going to be way out of its element.


The Piebald’s rider, one Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor has gone through eight marriages, which means that she is capable of adapting (though perhaps not that well). Can she make the leap from steeplechase to a tradition track?

The answer is maybe. And the odds reflect that.

The Black Stallion


If the Kentucky Derby was Mario Kart, then The Black Stallion would be Mario. Solid across the board, but not at the top of anyone’s list. “The Black,” as its owner Alex named it, should have good endurance from all the swimming it did back in North Africa.

My biggest reservation here is political. I don’t see, in this post-9/11 climate, a likelihood that the folks behind the Kentucky Derby would let an Arabian horse garner the glory of a victory. Hey. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not the one sabotaging the horse’s chances. Other people are doing that.



I really like this bet. Hidalgo doesn’t have the pedigree of any of the other horses here, but that’s not the only thing to take into account. We saw Hidalgo and his jockey, Viggo Mortensen, win the Ocean of Fire race through the Arabian desert. Granted, that was a 3,000-mile, transcontinental endurance race, and the Kentucky Deby is ten furlongs (1.25 miles) and lasts approximately two minutes.

They’re very different races, but first of all, of all the horse names you see on this list, which one inspires the most confidence? That’s right. Hidalgo. Of all the jockeys on this list, who inspires the most confidence? Tobey Maguire? Pfffft. Psshht. Chuh. Not likely. I’d sooner put money on Liz Taylor to ride a horse to victory than Maguire, and she’s been dead for 13 months. Viggo’s the smart bet here. Don’t bet against Viggo. Someone bet against Viggo in Eastern Promises and he ended up killing two guys while naked in a bathhouse. Big mistake.



Secretariat (the actual racehorse) certainly has the track record to inspire confidence, but I wouldn’t wager a dime on Secretariat (the racehorse from the Disney movie Secretariat). Sure, they’re SUPPOSED to be one and the same, but Secretariat seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the success of Seabiscuit for Dreamworks. That’s not to say it’s a bad film, but the pedigree of the film completely offsets the pedigree of the racehorse the film is based on.

Secretariat breaks late; everyone knows this. However, seven years after Seabiscuit is too big a handicap to overcome.

Final outcome: Hidalgo by three lengths. Tobey Maguire dies from injuries sustained by being trampled.

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