Great horse-racing movies? It's just not a very large field

May 18, 1994|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff Writer

We were sitting around thinking about the Preakness and about memorable horse racing movies.

Well, that killed five minutes.

Horse racing has not inspired many memorable movies. It's not like baseball, where we could mention several good baseball movies before ending the discussion with two words: "Bull Durham."

In search of horse movies, we used Roger Ebert's "Movie Home Companion," Leonard Maltin's "TV Movies and Video Guide" and something called the "Golden Movie Retriever" -- where we netted our favorite title, "The Day the Bookies Wept."

The first crown jewel of horse racing movies was "National Velvet," a 1944 movie starring those two spunky kids, Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney. They trained their horse to win the Grand National Race. Mr. Rooney, 35 years later, played a veteran horse trainer in "The Black Stallion."

A few years back, Richard Dreyfuss played a small-time gambler in a box-office flop called "Let It Ride."

The 1984 film "Phar Lap" was about a legendary Australian racehorse that mysteriously died.

That's about it for the whole movies. We're down to noting scenes with horses.

You have to like Julia Roberts whooping it up -- a la Arsenio Hall -- in the scene at the track in "Pretty Woman." Well, you don't have to like it.

But the most memorable horse scene could be from "The Godfather." Of course, a severed horse's head tucked into satin sheets is not precisely in the spirit of the 119th running of the Preakness.

So, maybe you want to check out "My Friend Flicka."

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