Seabiscuit was a scrappy, funny-looking little horse who was dismissed as a loser by his first owner and whose ultimate achievements were probably due more to his determined spirit that to his native talents. Secretariat was a massive perfect racing machine, capable of astonishing bursts of speed, able to hang back, let the lead horses tire each other out, then shoot past them on the outside as if they were standing still. No one would argue that Seabiscuit was the better horse, but he gives the storyteller more to work with.
Secretariat wisely focuses on the human drama, particularly on Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), a demure housewife with a will of steel who inherited a money-loosing horse farm and determined to make a go of it, and on Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), a colorful horse trainer with astonishingly bad taste in clothes.
The writers take some dramatic liberties. It’s not that they tell a lot of big lies, but they shade the truth to raise the tension and make things more entertaining.
In the end it doesn’t matter. Everyone over a certain age will go into the movie knowing how it is going to end. For those who don’t know how it ends, all I can suggest is: don’t look it up–see the movie and find out.