Secretariat will film in Kentucky
Disney officials confirmed Thursday that part of Secretariat, a major motion picture about the horse, will be shot in Kentucky, and the horse’s owner says that’s as it should be.
“It will be real,” said Penny Chenery, owner of the 1973 Triple Crown winner. “Kentucky is the home of thoroughbred racing and breeding, and you can’t fake Central Kentucky.”
Disney officials did not elaborate on filming locations or any other information about what will take place when the production comes here.
Secretariat is the first major motion picture to announce it will film in Kentucky since the General Assembly passed a bill including tax incentives for filmmakers in June.
Leonard Lusky, president of Secretariat.com, has been working with the filmmakers and says the incentives were key to getting the film to come to Kentucky.
“They were not planning to come here, but at the 11th hour, the film incentives came through, and that changed everything,” Lusky said.
The Kentucky Film Office confirmed that they have received an incentives application for the film, and it will be on the agenda for the Aug. 18 meeting of the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.
One of the big questions now is which horse, or more precisely, horses, will play the title character who died in 1989. Like Seabiscuit, which filmed in Central Kentucky in 2002, there will be a half dozen or more horses playing the champion.
“The difference is that Seabiscuit was a fairly standard horse, but Secretariat was the Charles Atlas of thoroughbreds,” Lusky said.
Chenery reflects, “He was red and white and his colors were blue and white. He was all-American and incorruptible.”
Secretariat.com has been the clearing house for applicants for the role, and Lusky said lead wrangler Rusty Hendrickson has been looking through more than 200 hopefuls.
Lusky said the Secretariat look-alike contest at the second annual Bourbon County Secretariat Festival, Sept. 26 at the Bourbon County Fairgrounds, could play a role in finding a horse for the movie. Chenery said she will attend the festival.
Already settled, much to Chenery’s satisfaction, is casting for her role: Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actor Diane Lane.
“She’s a wonderful, intuitive, very intelligent actress,” Chenery said. “The questions that she asks me tell me she gets me.”
Chenery says she’s been impressed by everyone she’s met connected with the film, which will be directed by Randall Wallace, who received an Oscar nomination for writing the screenplay for Braveheart (1995). His previous directing credits are We Were Soldiers (2002) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998).
Chenery also spent time with screenwriter Mike Rich, whose credits include two successful sports-based films, Radio (2003), about a football coach’s life-changing friendship with a mentally challenged young man, and The Rookie (2002), about a high school baseball coach who fulfills his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues when he is 35.
Like those films, Chenery said Secretariat’s life was a feel-good story.
21 Responses to “Secretariat will film in Kentucky”
Interesting to go from a discussion in your last blog about AGL and whether it’s important to have a professional theatre or not and to have your next blog be about a professional film shooting in Kentucky. I’m surprised every amateur film-maker isn’t jumping on board here and saying “we don’t need no stinking professional films coming into the state.” I am at an utter loss on how to make people understand the value of professional arts to a state, a city, or a community. It seems to me so obvious that it would need no explanation.
Mr. Pogue is right. I hate cliches, but this one’s so durned appropriate it must be applied here: the rising tide lifts all boats.
The GhostPony August 13th, 2009 at 7:29 pm
I’m still waiting for Man O’ War’s story to appear on film. Walter Farley’s book brought the Bluegrass and Thoroughbred horses to more kids than Secretariat ever did, and prompted many to relocate here as adults as well.
I’m delighted such a film is being made. While Ghost Pony is quite right in stating that Man O’War is a legend, more people of this era may recall Secretariat. In the early ’80s, I was privileged to chaperone a 4-H group’s visit to Claiborne Farm to see the Big Guy. It was the off-season for breeding, so he had his pasture to himself. At the sight of the group, he came running to the fence happily, not in aggression as many stallions are wont to do, Whether or not he was aware of his celebrity, I cannot say, but a few of the kids were daring enough to reach out for pats, which he accepted with equanimity (to our escort’s great relief!). A real champ in every way! I cried in joy at his breathtaking Belmont win, a feat of beauty and excellence, and cried in sorrow when his life was cut short by laminitis. I’m looking forward to the movie!!!!!
fyrefighter 273 August 13th, 2009 at 9:16 pm
This is great, the greatest horse ever, well deserving movie subject,
I’m awaiting the release of the John Henry documentary that’s been on the shelf for over two years. From what I understand, the production company doesn’t have the funds to release it. Sad. John Henry was an American Hero and true Blue Collar horse.
I do have to agree with the article’s quote by Lusky. There’s no horse, single or combined with others, who can duplicate Secretariat’s muscling and body. Computer enhancement or digital enhancement can help. I hope some shooting at Claiborne is done, because it is the quintessential traditional Kentucky classic horse farm, and like Secretariat, it is such an original it would be great to not have to try to duplicate it.
Congratulations to the state too for getting the incentives arranged, which sounds critical to making the filming happen here.
I grew up in Paris and had family that worked at Claiborne during Secretariat’s time there. I was privileged to get to see him, pat him, and hug him during visits to the farm. He was a magnificent horse and it is so exciting to know that there will be a movie based on his achievements and storied life. Can’t wait!
Secretariat has more name recognition than Man-O-War and he is likely to appear to a larger audience. While I, too, would like to see Man-O-War on film, I am grateful that they are at least showcasing horses instead of crime and murders.
i think this is great this is the greatest horse of akll time a triple crown winner,in the belmont he won by 30 lenths and his time still stands to this day.And Diane lane shewwwww can I be in that movie?sign me up! horray for ky horseracing we can use a shot in the arm and the econmy
Sounds great… a movie about “Secretariat” and starring the gorgeous and talented Diane Lane!
I’m there already! Opening day watch for me!
Horseracefan August 16th, 2009 at 7:11 pm
I hope the movie’s Kentucky Derby scene is as exciting as the 1973 duel between Secretariat and Sham. Check out Sham’s website at http://www.ShamRacehorse.com.
bob fister August 18th, 2009 at 9:26 am
I think this is great, I hope that they do part of the filming in his old paddock. He was a great horse but no horse has the appeal that Man O War had. Man-O-War was the greatest horse of all time, there should be a movie made about him as well. Man-O-War has brought many a tourist to these farms and towns in central Ky. Secrateriat was a great horse, there will not be a better for many years to come. Go Bluegrass. From a proud Ky born from Paris/Lexington Ky.
[...] Secretariat, which will tell the story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and his owner, Penny Chenery, is expected to begin filming in late September. Locations and details have yet to be announced. Diane Lane will star as Chenery and the film will be directed by Randall Wallace. [...]
[...] @CopiousNotes gave us dish about the upcoming Secretariat movie. [...]
who will play lauren, turcotte, and eddie sweat? Sham and his trainer Frank Martin? and who will play Pincaye? too many questions…
[...] Secretariat, chronicling the life of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and his owner, Penny Chenery, will be filmed in Central Kentucky for two weeks beginning in the end of September. Diane Lane will play Chenery. [...]
Kate Tweedy September 28th, 2009 at 11:15 pm
I have been privileged to watch the filming at Keeneland and meet some of the stars. While, as they repeatedly tell us, it is not a documentary, I have total faith that everyone involved in the picture is committed to the idea that Secretariat’s Belmont was a transcendent event, that he came to us at a time that the nation needed a hero, and that he was one of the greatest athletes, human or equine of all time. That makes me very happy, and I am hopeful that it will be a great movie, worthy of Secretariat and the Meadow team, Penny, Ronnie, and Lucien. It is thrilling to see his life recreated.
MyBigRed September 30th, 2009 at 10:33 am
I am so excited to see a movie being made about my Heros, Secretariat, Penny, Ron, Lucien, and the rest of the Secretariat team. Please don’t forget Eddie Sweat. Big Red loved Eddie so much and Eddie LOVED Secretariat with all his heart and soul. The Secretariat Festival was AWESOME and Keeneland is a Beautiful Racetrack. Thank you Disney for making my dream come true. God Bless You All.
B3ARKY October 6th, 2009 at 8:29 pm
As an update to this post, I’ve been filming as a special movie extra in the Derby Scenes, and I just wanted to let the fans know this: they are doing an excellent job with this film (at least from what I’ve seen). I’m so proud to be amongst talent and creativity–Randall Wallace is great! Hang in there… this will be a good one!
Lonna Davis August 1st, 2010 at 12:47 am
How wonderful Disney chose to produce the film about Secretariat, Penny Chenery and her family. She captured the spotlight with dignity and charm, equal to the fabulous horse her father bred, and she courageously chose to carry on her father’s tradition. I’m so glad that Disney included and valued Penny and Kate’s participation throughout this project. Our country needs a big-hearted American dream demonstrating fortitude, integrity and perseverance through difficult challenges. I am so delighted that Penny is here to enjoy and celebrate Secretariat’s great triumph, again. Thank you to Disney and all the others who worked so hard to put this brilliant story on the big screen, what a fitting conclusion for Big Red!!!
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich