“50 to 1” opens to show Allen in the midst of a bar brawl in which Woolley comes to his aid, the pair sharing introductions between blows. Believe it or not, the two really did meet when Woolley bailed Allen out of a bar fight about 25 years before the pair would join in on Mine That Bird.
Also mentioned in the film, Allen did make his fortune in oil. It came from the sale of his father’s oil services business, VECO, Corp. This allowed Allen, who owned quarter horses and Thoroughbreds on his Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, NM, to partner with Blach in the $400,000 purchase of Mine That Bird.
A true tale depicted in the film was Woolley’s trip to Canada, at Allen’s request, to investigate the 2-year-old Mine That Bird’s potential and Woolley’s immediate disapproval of the gelding and eventual amazement at Mine That Bird’s ability.
Another truth was Woolley’s motorcycle accident that resulted in a broken leg. Untrue was the timing. This happened before Mine That Bird ran in the Sunland Derby. Woolley was in a wheelchair for that race.
The long road trip Woolley made in the Ford F-450 Lariat towing Mine That Bird in a one-horse trailer was also true.
One glaring and unfair depiction in the film was Bob Baffert. Baffert, who trained runner-up Pioneerof the Nile for Zayat Stables, is depicted in the film as having somewhat of a personal vendetta against Mine That Bird’s cowboy crew, but from what I’ve discerned from others covering the 2009 Kentucky Derby, that was not true. I assume that the recognizable character of Baffert was used to show the collective bluebloods of racing looking down on the misfit cowboys. Whether the Mine That Bird crew was actually treated that way or not, I can’t say, but I can say that the horse racing people I’ve met have always been welcoming to newcomers. It is true that Woolley and Mine That Bird were given little attention leading up to the Kentucky Derby and arrived on track much unnoticed, aside from Woolley’s hat and crutches.
All in all, I highly recommend the film whether you’re a racing fan or not, maybe even better if you’re not a racing fan. I found myself distracted at times because I was paying too much attention to the background scenes and other horses in the races! Although the movie is rated PG-13, I wouldn’t hesitate taking my 11-year-old. “50-1” is practically G rated compared to the PG-13 Harry Potter or Marvel Comics movies.
The film is now showing in select theaters in Kentucky and Indiana. In Louisville, you can catch it at Cinemark Tinseltown (4400 Towne Center Drive) and Stonybrook 20+ IMAX (2745 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy.). It can also be seen in Indiana at River Falls Stadium 12 (951 E. Lewis & Clark Pkwy.) and New Albany Stadium 16 (300 Professional Court). For a complete listing of theaters outside Louisville and Southern Indiana, visit the “50 to 1” Facebook page.
Photos: Courtesy Churchill Downs and 50to1themovie.com
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