There's an old saying in horse racing: Breed the best to the best and hope for the best.
That's exactly what director Gary Ross does with Seabiscuit. He's taken a trio of superb actors - Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper - and Laura Hillenbrand's thrillingly good best seller and melded them into a graceful, intelligent and heartfelt film. Right from the beginning, Ross lets us know this is not going to be just another maverick-stallion-finds-love-and-wins-th e-Big-Race story. Seabiscuit himself ( several horses, but Fighting Ferrari in close-ups) doesn't appear until about 45 minutes in.
First, we meet the men behind the horse.
The movie has two climaxes. The first is the match race with War Admiral, conqueror of the Triple Crown and perfection on four legs. Think Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. The second reconfirms the bond between jockey Red Pollard (Maguire) and the Biscuit. Both come back from career-ending injuries - "We've got four legs between us," Pollard cracks - to run in the exclusive, lucrative Santa Anita Handicap, a race that had eluded Seabiscuit twice.