This is the story about one of the greatest race horses of all time. Diane Lane plays the character of Penny Chenery. Penny goes back to her home in Virginia upon the death of her mother. Her father has dementia which makes him incapable of running the horse farm which has fallen into disarray. Penny takes it upon herself to get the farm back in order. She gets a lot of resistance from the men who have little respect for a woman, especially one that knows almost nothing about horses. Penny straightens them out right away by firing a corrupt trainer after her brother tells her what is going on. Penny makes friends with the neighboring farm owners, the Hancocks. They recommend that she hire a trainer named Lucien Laurin (played by John Malkovich). After some persuasion, Penny convinces Lucien to come onboard to help her.
There is a deal with an owner of a stud horse that they will breed the stud with two mares owned by Penny's farm, then decide who gets which foal by tossing a coin. Penny wins the foal that they name Secretariat. When Secretariat first races, he does not do very well until Penny gets a better jockey Ronnie Turcotte (played by Otto Thorwarth) to ride him. Ronnie takes Secretariat to many victories and the horse is named "horse of the year."
Penny's father dies which creates a financial crisis because of the large amount of taxes due for the estate. Even though Penny desperately needs money and she is offered $7 million for Secretariat by another owner she refuses to sell him. Instead she sells partial shares in the horse to get enough money to continue. Just before the Triple Crown, she is challenged by another owner to race Secretariat against his horse named Sham. Sham defeats Secretariat, but the jockey riding Secretariat notices some infection in his mouth which is causing Secretariat to run poorly. In time for the Triple Crown, Secretariat has healed. He wins the first two of the tree races, then wins the last one, called the Belmontm running so far ahead of the rest of the horses that it is amazing. This is the first time any horse has won the Triple Crown in over 25 years.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like the way that Penny deals with the male chauvinists and puts them in their place, showing that even though she is a woman, she is just as strong as they are.
Best scene in story:
The scene when Penny refuses to sell Secretariat outright to the rival owner for $7 million dollars. I like that she holds out and does not make the sale even though she desperately needs the money, especially when she tells the other owner the horse will be worth three times more after it wins the Triple Crown. It is an outrageous statement, but it turns out to be true.
Opinion about the main character:
It is wonderful that Penny is not intimidated and finds the courage to do what needs to be done.