I was listening to Drake & Zeke Monday AM, and they were talking to a sportswriter whose article about Barbaro is in the works to be a major motion picture. That’s exactly what we need — weeper about a beautiful horse who wins the KY Derby, gets injured and then dies. Isn’t that basically the same plot as Million Dollar Baby?
Why keep rehashing the Barbaro story, when there is a much more uplifting horse story just laying there at Hollywood’s feet? I can picture it now…
AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Story of JOHN HENRY
Old John’s story took him from Kentucky to the bayous of Louisiana to the NYC circuit to Cali and beyond, and he was connected to a host of colorful people, not the least Sam Rubin, his final owner who enjoyed his greatest success.
The beginning of the film could be a high-energy replay of the Affirmed/Alydar Belmont, the highest peak in the TB world…then the images fade into a quieter, plainer backside where a small, brown colt is tearing down the walls of his stall and throwing feed bins. From there, the film could show him passed from owner to owner until he falls into the hands of funloving Rubin and trainer Ron MacAnally. You can see John win the Chocolatetown Handicap and Sam accept the trophy full of hershey’s candy. The movie progresses as John wins more, and don’t forget Whittingham’s legendary comment, “beat him? I’m just trying to outlive him!” The climax will be his thrilling run in the inaugural Arlington Million, against the top horses in the US & Europe. He races far back and grinds out the stretch, racing neck and neck with The Bart, surging under the wire to a photo finish. The crowd and commentators all watch and wait for the stewards’ decision, and finally, the tote board flashes OFFICIAL — John Henry has won, by a nose, AGAINST ALL ODDS!
The story takes place in the early 80’s, which is experiencing a renaissance in pop culture. Racing fans lov movies about our heroes, and John Henry was one of the greatest ever — 83 starts, 39 wins and over $6 mill in earnings, the first horse to reach that amount. He raced a long time, to the age of 9, and when he rtired, it was not to stud, but to the only theme park for horses, where his many fans could visit him. He died last year at the age of 32, and over 500 people attended his funeral, including me:-)