Seabiscuit is a 2003 American equestrian sports film directed by Gary Ross and based on the best-selling non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film is loosely based on the life and racing career of Seabiscuit, an undersized and overlooked Thoroughbred race horse, whose unexpected successes made him a hugely popular media sensation in the United States during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit was nominated for seven Academy Awards.


Three men, Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges), and Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) come together as the principal jockey, owner, and trainer of the championship horse Seabiscuit, rising from troubled times to achieve fame and success through their association with the horse.

Red is the child of a Canadian family financially ruined by the Great Depression. In desperate need of money, the family leaves Red with a horse trainer. Red eventually becomes a jockey, but makes extra money through illegal boxing matches which left him blind in one eye. Howard is a clerk in a bicycle shop who gets asked by a passing motorist to repair his automobile, a technology which has recently been introduced. As a result, Howard becomes knowledgeable enough with automobiles to increase their performance and sell them as a dealer, eventually becoming the largest car dealer in California and one of the Bay Area's richest men. However, his son is killed in an automobile accident while driving the family car, which sends Howard into a bout of deep depression, which eventually results in his wife (Valerie Mahaffey) leaving him.

On a trip to Mexico to obtain a divorce, he meets Marcela Zabala (Elizabeth Banks). After marrying Marcela, Howard acquires a stable of horses and later has a chance encounter with the skilled and kindly horse trainer and drifter Smith. Howard hires Smith to manage his stables after Smith, who specializes in rehabilitating injured and abused horses, explains to Howard "You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little bit". Smith convinces Howard to acquire the colt "Seabiscuit", who comes from noted lineage but had been deemed "incorrigible" by past handlers and was later broken and trained to lose against better horses.

Smith is unable to find a jockey willing to deal with Seabiscuit's temperament, but after witnessing Red Pollard brawling with other stable boys, he sees in him a similar temperament to the feisty horse and decides to appoint him as Seabiscuit's jockey. Seabiscuit and Pollard become close and they begin to race. After overcoming early difficulties, such as a dismissive media and Pollard's anger issues and blind eye, Seabiscuit begins to earn considerable success and becomes an extremely popular underdog for the millions affected by the Great Depression. Inspired, Howard tries repeatedly to provoke a race with the mocking New York tycoon Samuel Riddle and his fearsome stallion "War Admiral", the top race horse in the country. Riddle eventually relents to a match race on his terms between War Admiral and Seabiscuit, but while the date approaches, Pollard is injured in a riding accident, fracturing his leg. When the doctor reports that he will be unable to ride again, Red suggests that Howard get an old friend, the successful jockey George Woolf (Gary Stevens) to be Seabiscuit's new rider.

Red teaches Woolf about Seabiscuit's handling and mannerisms. At the match race, Seabiscuit upsets the heavy favorite, War Admiral, partly because of a secret that Pollard relates to Woolf, instructing him to hold him head to head with the other horse so he gets "a good look at the Admiral". Later on, Seabiscuit is racing at Santa Anita when he is injured and has to stop. Red helps him to recover and get fit enough to race again. The last race is again at the Santa Anita, and Red rides him this time after putting a special self-made brace on his own leg to keep it stable. Woolf is on a different horse. Seabiscuit drops to last place and trails the pack, but Woolf holds back to be alongside Red and let Seabiscuit "get a good look". After a short conversation, Seabiscuit surges and wins the race.

Red says, "You know, everybody thinks that we found this broken down horse and fixed him, but we didn't. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way, we kinda fixed each other, too"



The film was shot at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Keeneland was chosen to double for Pimlico Race Course because Pimlico had dramatically changed physically since Seabiscuit's time. The film also marks a second collaboration between director Gary Ross and actors Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy, who worked together in Ross's 1998 film Pleasantville.

Critical reception

The film received positive reviews from critics. On the review website Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 201 reviews, and an average rating of 7.1/10, with the consensus: "A life-affirming, if saccharine, epic treatment of a spirit-lifting figure in sports history".[2]

Awards and nominations

Group Category Recipient Result
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Randy Newman Won
76th Academy Awards[3] Best Picture Kathleen Kennedy,
Frank Marshall and
Gary Ross
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) Gary Ross Nominated
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall; Set Decoration:
Leslie Pope
Best Cinematography John Schwartzman Nominated
Best Costume Design Judianna Makovsky Nominated
Best Film Editing William Goldenberg Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Andy Nelson,
Anna Behlmer and
Tod A. Maitland
54th ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic William Goldenberg Nominated
American Society of Cinematographers Awards 2003 Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases John Schwartzman Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2003 Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay Gary Ross Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards 2003 Outstanding Directing – Feature Film Gary Ross Nominated
61st Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture William H. Macy Nominated
Satellite Awards 2003 Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Jeff Bridges Nominated
Best Art Direction and Production Design Nominated
Best Cinematography John Schwartzman Nominated
Best Costume Design Judianna Makovsky Nominated
Best Editing William Goldenberg Nominated
Best Original Score Randy Newman Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Gary Ross Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
10th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Chris Cooper Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Elizabeth Banks
Jeff Bridges
Chris Cooper
William H. Macy
Tobey Maguire
Gary Stevens
Writers Guild of America Awards 2003 Best Adapted Screenplay Gary Ross Nominated

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. ^ "Seabiscuit (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ "Seabiscuit". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  3. ^ "The 76th Academy Awards (2004) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  5. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 

External links