The Hollywood Derby
Happy Derby day! Affix your best floppy hat, pop a sprig of mint in your julep, and kick back with some equestrian-themed flick(a)s. Whether they’re in the titular role or a scene-stealing supporting part, these hoofed heroes will get you in the mood for some racecourse action. But, what if the Hollywood horses got together in an epic Derby showdown of their own? Ready to gamble on who would
fly gallop into the sunset victorious? We’d place our bets on this definitive ranking of first-past-the-post ponies. No neigh-sayers allowed.
10. Black Beauty
Bringing up the rear is that glossy-coated stallion, Black Beauty himself. We admire his flexibility when it comes to career paths— his résumé boasts stints as a carriage, cab and grain puller— and his resilient attitude in hard times. But, his over-eagerness to befriend other fillies could count against him when it comes to gritting his teeth and champing at the bit. “Dreams will never die, as long as I keep hope in my heart and never stop believing that friendship will set me free,” proclaims Beauty at one point. Points for any mantra spoken in Alan Cumming’s voice, but this still doesn’t sound like a winner’s mentality. Sorry, Beauty— didn’t anyone ever tell you nice horses finish last?
Place your bets if: Fancy manners are your thing. At one point Beauty serves as a squire on a country estate, dah-ling!
Speed, stamina, and the ability to recover quickly from a debilitating mouth abscess — Secretariat, the star of Disney’s 2010 film, competitively vies for the crown and your fictional bucks. But some of the thrill (and money) is lost when you opt for the predicted favorite. The “impossible true story” of the 1973 Triple Crown Winner and the housewife who risks it all to make him a champion may be inspiring, but will it have you jumping out your seat and screaming for success? Take a chance on an underhorse and the experience will be all the more rousing for it.
Place your bets if: You like to play it safe.
The title character of the 2004 western, described in the movie as “the world’s greatest distance horse” stands a good chance, if we could even convince him to register. After all, he won a 3,000-mile race across the Najd desert, known as the annual “Ocean of Fire” race. Throw in the fact that the Saudi sands are hotter than Louisville, Ky. on an average May Saturday and Hidalgo might find our Derby colt’s play. But if he did grace us with an entry, no one could argue that we have a serious contender on our hands.
Place your bets if: Flared nostrils and the ability to outrun a sandstorm impress you.
7. The Black Stallion
If a horse can survive a sinking ship in a crazy storm and save a young boy on his swim to tropical shores, we like his chances when it comes to running a little race. Okay, the star of the 1979 movie might get spooked by the occasional passing car, but his scrappy attitude around other horses is just what’s needed to battle to victory on Derby day. Take note, Black Beauty.
Place your bets if: It’s raining on the day of the Derby — Ol’ Black has some experience.
6. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
This is a tricky one. That feisty Mustang isn’t called Spirit for nothing. In Disney’s 2002 animated hit, the lead stallion does not take kindly to any attempt to ride him, much less place a harness on his back. #RaceDayProblems. Then again, this is a fictional Derby so who says jockeys are even a requirement? Spirit does love to run with others, though. His favorite part of free stampeding with a pack? “The hoofbeats were many but our hearts beat as one.” Cute sentiment, Spirit, but not really conducive to competition.
Place your bets if: You like to take risks. In saying that, Spirit does jump over an entire canyon. With that level of agility, maybe it’s not such a leap of faith after all.
5. War Horse
Choose Joey as your champion if you enjoy a bit of culture — the war horse traversed three countries (and we can assume understood three languages) in the 2011 movie adaptation of the play by the same name. Other major skills include: responding to owl sounds, military training and inspiring fierce loyalty in pretty much everyone who crosses his path/seizes ownership of him. If the power of a good cry equates winning in your eyes, this battle-weary bronco is your winner.
Place you bets if: Picking the horse just because it has a funny name is beneath you.
4. Toy Story 2
Okay, he doesn’t necessarily look like a racehorse, but if loyalty, love and affection are your priorities, Woody’s horse, Bullseye, wins hooves down. Plus, remember that tense scene at the end of the movie? That’s right, Bullseye not only carries three
people toys, he also keeps pace with an airplane!
Place your bets if: Friends are the real champions in your eyes.
Seabiscuit may be smaller than the average racehorse, but when he draws level with another contender all it takes is a look in its eye and he’ll break from the pack, sprinting for the finish. Hope is never lost with this champion. Plus, suffer an injury and need someone to share in the pain? Seabiscuit will conveniently become injured at exactly the same time. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “sympathy pains.”
Place your bets if: Animals are your “mane man.”
2. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
If you jumped (fell) off a cliff, would your horse follow you? Aragorn’s horse Brego would. Then, he’d scoop you up when you’re more or less dead (and certainly not conscious) and deliver you to
Legolas’ arms safety. Additional skills (not that they’re needed) include: battle prowess and being multi-lingual. When you’re yelling “veer to the left and knock that overly-friendly Black Magic off course” in Elvish, no one will cotton on to your tactics.
Place your bets if: You’re smart.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
There will be no discriminating over body parts in the ultimate movie horserace. Just because a horse has an eagle head/torso doesn’t mean he’s disqualified. Welcome all Hippogriffs! There’s really only one word to explain Buckbeak’s victory in the 2016 Hollywood Derby: Wings. Sure the whole maintaining eye contact until trust is established thing might take some time and cause a few cuts, but there’s no swifter route past the post than actual flight.
Place your bets if: WINGS. No further explanation necessary.