While I’m not the biggest fan of movies about horse racing, I am excited about the upcoming film 50 to 1. The film is based on the true story of a horse named Mine That Bird, which had 50 to 1 odds to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby and (spoiler alert) won. It has been considered one of the biggest upsets in not only horse racing, but in the world of sports. However it’s not just the Cinderella-esque story that has me excited about the film, because the director and cast certainly add to it.
The film follows the career of Mine That Bird. He was born in Kentucky and his sire (father) was Birdstone, the winner of the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Despite being born in the United States, the horse spent his early racing years in Canada. While in Canada, he won four of his six starts, which led to him being purchased by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine for $400,000. He was moved to New Mexico shortly after.
Once in New Mexico, Mine That Bird was trained by Chip Woolley, played by Skeet Ulrich (Jericho, Law and Order L.A.). The role of New Mexico co-owner Mark Allen was given to Christian Kane (Leverage, Hide). The film focuses on their training and experience in New Mexico more than any other part of the horse’s career. During his first two races with the team, he finished second and forth. Both those finishes and his Canadian resume qualified Mine That Bird for the Kentucky Derby.
Of the 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird had the third lowest odds of winning the race. The odds were looking so bad that Allen and Woolley were just hoping that he didn’t finish in last place. Once the race started, it looked like their worst fears where coming to reality. Mine That Bird was about eight lengths behind, right out of the gate.
To catch up, jockey Calvin Borel (who is portrayed by Borel himself) used a rail-skimming technique that helped him win the race in 2007 with Street Sense. The technique worked, obviously, and not only did the duo catch up, but they took the lead. The jockey who was leading previously said that he didn’t even see them until they were three lengths ahead of him. Mine That Bird won the race by six lengths, and became the biggest upset in Derby history, since Donerail won in 1913 with 91-1 odds.
Mine That Bird went on to race the rest of America’s Triple Crown and did so with success. He finished second, while being ridden by Mike Smith, to the Borel ridden Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes. At the Belmont Stakes he finished 3rd while being ridden by Borel again. Mine That Bird never won another race after the Kentucky Derby.
50 to 1 is directed by Jim Wilson, which adds to the excitement. Wilson has produced and directed many of my favourite films, including the classic Dances With Wolves. Wilson is also credited as a writer for the film with Faith Conroy (Thor, Mr. Brooks).
The film is expected to be released on March 21. It is perfect timing to build up excitement for the UK’s Grand National, which begins April 3. As of now, Teaforthree is the heavy favourite, according to Betfair’s Grand National page on the race. However, they have also indicated there are several horses with 50 to 1 odds—Chance Du Roy, Same Difference, and Mr. Moonshine—that deserve much consideration once hearing or watching the story of Mine That Bird.
If all goes well, 50 to 1 should be a great film that’ll hopefully garner some buzz around next year’s awards. Not only that, but it’s expected to be extremely family friendly, making it a must-see for everyone.