“50-1,” the new movie from the Oscar-winning producer that brought us “Dances With Wolves” is about Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and the rag-tag crew that got him to the Kentucky Derby. The movie is scheduled to open March 21, 2014, but the trailer was released this week.
Kentucky Derby fans may remember the day jockey Calvin Borel scored his second Kentucky Derby win in two years when he zipped up the rail to victory with longshot Mine That Bird. At odds of 50-1, the New Mexico-based gelding was barely a blip on horseplayers’ radar and had fans (and even race caller Trevor Denman) asking who was the ‘8’ coming up the rail, sweeping past Pioneer of the Nile in the Kentucky Derby stretch? As fans scrambled for their race programs to answer that question, trainer Chip Wooley and the winning connections from Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, were making their way to the winner’s circle.
Stories quickly unfolded of the little horse that could and the trainer clad in a black cowboy hat that hobbled his way on crutches, with a broken leg, from the track’s backside to saddle his Kentucky Derby runner. Of the long and surprising journey from a fourth-place finish in the Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico to a longshot win in the Kentucky Derby and the 1,500-mile trek the pair maid in a Ford F-450 Lariat. As more and more information emerged about the horse and his connections, it read like a Hollywood script and, soon, the world will see it played out in Hollywood fashion on the big screen.
“I had been waiting for a great racehorse story for a very long time,” said producer, director, co-writer and racehorse owner Jim Wilson in a press release posted to the film’s Facebook page. “But when I watched what unfolded at the 2009 Kentucky Derby, I was stunned. I’ve always been a fan of true underdog stories, and after meeting the owners, trainer and finally Bird himself, I was hooked. This story had all the cinematic elements you could ask for. It’s been a real adventure and one I am proud to share with the world.”
The release stated that Wilson had read several horse racing scripts throughout the years, but hadn’t found what he was looking for until it played out before his eyes that first Saturday in May 2009. Wilson produced and directed the film and also co-wrote the script with Faith Conroy. The film is rated PG-13.
The film stars Skeet Ulrich (from Jericho fame) as Wooley; Christian Kane (Friday Night Lights) as co-owner Mark Allen; William Devane (24) as co-owner Leonard "Doc" Blach, Todd Lowe (True Blood) as racing manager Kelly Denninton, and jockey Calvin Borel as himself. Mine That Bird is played by Sunday Rest. A quick Equibase search found a lightly-raced four-year-old Arizona-bred gelding by this name, unraced since 2011, but it’s unclear if this off-track Thoroughbred is the same movie star.
The movie will premiere at KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 19, 2014 and will open to all theaters March 21, 2014. Watch the trailer now and look for more details and a review of the film on Louisville.com next March.