I love a good horse movie like the next equestrian so when I was approached about reviewing 50 to 1, the movie about 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, I was all for it! I knew the story of Mine That Bird and how jockey Calvin Borel rode him clear up the rail to take the Kentucky Derby, but I didn’t know the back story. This movie tells the story of trainer “Chip” Woolley and owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach and how they acquired Mine That Bird and their journey to Churchill Downs. Mine That Bird went into the race at 50-1 odds, an improbable Derby winner, but his story shows us to never count out the underdog. When a horse puts his heart into something, anything is possible! Don’t worry…I’ll be mindful of spoilers!
The movie itself may start out a bit slow but it does pick up once the horse comes into the picture. One of my favorite things about this movie is how much personality they gave Mine That Bird (played by Sunday Rest). If you have ever owned a Thoroughbred or been around them for long, you know they can have very big personalities. (Look at my own Taylor…big personality, bit of a diva…love that about him). I adored that they showcased Mine That Bird having a knack for escaping his stalls, playfully refusing to be caught, having an affinity for treats, and being “mouthy.” His enjoyment at taking hats off people’s heads really made me smile. This quirkiness about this horse made me become an even bigger fan of his.
I also thought they did very well with the casting. These famous cowboys each had big personalities and big hearts of their own which the actors captured beautifully. Skeet Ulrich played trainer Chip Woolley and Christian Kane played owner Mark Allen. The journey to the Derby wasn’t an easy and smooth one for them as they traveled from New Mexico. It’s not every day you see real cowboys show up for the Kentucky Derby, but I like when colorful characters attend. It makes it more fun. I was so excited and happy to see that Calvin Borel played himself in the film. He did a FANTASTIC job! He was a good sport in some of the silly scenes of him trying to get a ride for the Derby, but he was really one of my favorite parts of this film. I think he really added to it since he lived it. I also think it enhances the film when they use actual race footage. It was wonderful to see some of the live action shots from the actual race included in the movie. On a side note, one of my favorite scenes was when owner “Doc” Leonard Blach takes his wife and daughters shopping for the Derby (it looks like a Target). They find straw hats that they purchase with the intent of making their own hats for the Kentucky Derby. They do make them and wear them, and I thought these ladies were so cute in this scene!
In true fashion, this movie made me tear up at the end. There is something about watching a racehorse put his heart into running that gets me every time. It’s really a beautiful thing to watch. This movie will make you feel good and remind you why we love horses in the first place. Be sure to watch the making of this movie in the Special Features section for a behind the scenes look. 50 to 1 is now available for purchase on DVD.