Our 5 Best Horse Racing Movies Of All Time

min read
Three jockeys race their horses down the track.
BetMGM @BETMGM Sep 15, 2021, 2:21 PM

When you’re not glued to the edge of your seat waiting to see if studying how to bet on horse racing has helped improve your horse racing picks, it’s good to know you can relax and be glued to the edge of your seat with a great racing movie. 

Join us as we take a look at our five favorite horse racing movies of all time, which are sure to excite online sports betting, horse racing, and horse fans alike.

5. “National Velvet”

IMDB Score: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%

Starring: Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Crisp

Release date: 1944

The story

Based on the book of the same name by Enid Bagnold, “National Velvet” is the story of a young girl, Velvet Brown (played by Elizabeth Taylor), who adores horses more than anything. She is overjoyed when she wins a young horse named Pie in a raffle, and dreams of one day riding him in the Grand National. 

Upon hearing of Velvet’s plan, a disgraced jockey who works for the family, Mi Taylor (played by Mickey Rooney), tells Velvet that she has her head in the clouds because they can’t afford to enter the horse. Velvet reveals her mother could help, and so the two begin their plan to get the money they need to enter the Grand National and hopefully win the race!

Critics’ thoughts

This fresh and delightful Metro picture, based on Enid Bagnold’s novel of some years back, tells by far the most touching story of youngsters and of animals since Lassie was coming home. – Bosley Crowther for The New York Times. 

Both Taylor and Rooney give without doubt the best performances of their pre-adult years, but there’s also much pleasure to be had from a stellar supporting cast. – David Wood for BBC.com. 

4. “Phar Lap”

IMDB Score: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%

Starring: Tom Burlinson, Judy Morris, Martin Vaughan

Release date: 1983

The story

This film is based on the true story of a horse, Phar Lap, that was underweight, a misfit, and described as a cross between a “sheepdog” and a “kangaroo,” and a young man, Tommy Woodcock (played by Tom Burlinson) who believed in him. The buyer of the horse almost ended this tale before they began, but thanks to his horse trainer, a deal was struck to give the horse some time to show his potential.

We follow Woodcock and Phar Lap through all their trials and tribulations, including criminal efforts by those who would stop at nothing to prevent this horse from winning, and how they overcame all the odds against them.

Critics’ thoughts

The film is buoyed by good performances, strong production values, and Williamson’s writing, which finds a genuine but bittersweet way to commemorate one of Australian sport’s best performing athletes. – Luke Buckmaster for the Guardian. 

The movie ”Phar Lap” is as much of a crowd-pleaser as the champion Australian racehorse for whom it is named. – Janet Maslin for The New York Times.

3. “Secretariat”

IMDB Score: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%

Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martingale

Release date: 2010

The story

Based on the book “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion” by William Nack, “Secretariat” tells the story of Penny Chenery (played by Diane Lane), a woman who returns home to help her elderly and sickly father with his stables after her mother passes away. Despite having absolutely no knowledge of how to breed, care for, and train horses, Penny steps up to the task.

After getting rid of her father’s dishonest horse trainer, she and her father’s secretary, Miss Ham (played by Margo Martingale), manage to acquire the services of Lucien Laurin (played by John Malkovich). Together they take on the challenge of raising a horse that will not only save their stables but also prove all the people who believed they couldn’t win the Triple Crown wrong.

Critics’ thoughts

It’s a pleasurable, seductive fantasy partly because, as we have known from the start of cinema, the sight of a running horse is a beautiful thing. – Manohla Dargis for the

New York Times. 

Director Randall Wallace has achieved the next to impossible, injecting genuine tension and suspense into a narrative we all know the ending to. – Ann Hornaday for the Washington Post. 

2. “The Black Stallion”

IMDB Score: 7.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%

Starring: Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr

Release date: 1979

The story

In 1946, a young boy, Alec Ramsey (played by Kelly Reno), is traveling when he has a chance encounter with a horse that’s being transported on the ship that he’s traveling on. He sneaks into the stable area where they are keeping this magnificent horse, bringing along some sugar cubes. However, before he can share his treat with his potential friend, the owner of the horse catches him and sends him packing.

Fate ensures that these two will not be kept apart for long, and a fire breaks out on the ship later that night. Remembering the horse, Alec races to free it, and once it is released, it leaps into the ocean. Alec soon finds himself thrown overboard, only to wake up on a deserted island with the horse. The two begin to form a friendship in this strange and dangerous place before eventually being rescued. 

They two are brought home and begin a new adventure together: training to take on some of the greatest racehorses ever known.

Critics’ thoughts

The Black Stallion is a magical fable that basks in shimmering imagery, innocent wonder, and the romantic longings that we thought Hollywood had left behind in the ’50s. – Michael Blowen for The Boston Globe.

Carroll Ballard’s feature debut is rich in adventure, suspense, and mythical elements and marks the prize-winning short-subjects director as a major talent. –  Variety Staff for Variety.

1. “Seabiscuit”

IMDB Score: 7.3/10 

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks 

Release date: 2003

The story

Set during the Great Depression, “Seabiscuit” tells the story of a man, Charles Howard (played by Jeff Bridges), who had lost everything. A tragic automobile accident took the life of his son, and his wife, unable to bear the loss of their child, leaves Charles as well. 

In an attempt to rebuild his life, Charles gets a divorce and begins a new life with his second wife, Marcela Zabala (played by Elizabeth Banks). Having left everything behind, he also purchases a stableyard and is soon convinced to buy a small, lazy, and downright difficult horse: Seabiscuit. 

Howard’s path soon crosses with John “Red” Pollard (played by Tobey Maguire), a jockey who is blind in one eye due to an amateur boxing accident, and with their horse trainer, Tom Smith, the three work to unleash the potential they all believe Seabiscuit has. 

Critics’ thoughts

Wonderfully lovely and uplifting. Ross could be accused of over-egging the pudding, but a yarn this handsome, heartwarming, and thrilling can’t lose. – Angie Errigo for Empire Magazine.

Bright, uplifting adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s runaway bestseller. Desson Thomson for The Washington Post. 

Enjoy the best horse racing betting at BetMGM

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.