Disney Movie News

Disney coming to Secretariat Festival

‘Secretariat’ Producers to Join Racing Legends in Equine Star Search

PARIS, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2009) – While Hollywood has found movie stars all over the world, not many have hailed from Paris — Paris, Ky., that is. But when filmmakers for Walt Disney Pictures’ upcoming Secretariat come to town for the 2009 Bourbon County Secretariat Festival on Sept. 26, they may just find a fresh equine face to portray the legendary 1973 Triple Crown winner.

From an online casting call last month that attracted more than 700 entries, Rusty Hendrickson, lead wrangler for the film, selected four horses for the Secretariat film stable but left one slot vacant for a special horse who may emerge in the festival’s 2009 Secretariat Look-Alike Contest. In addition to Hendrickson’s appearance as a celebrity judge for the contest, Secretariat producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray of Mayhem Pictures will attend the Festival, and a film crew will be shooting footage about the making of the film. “We are thrilled to be going to the Secretariat Festival this year,” Ciardi said. “It is an exciting opportunity for us to not only be able to talk about this film and its compelling story with Secretariat’s most devoted fans but it will also be delightful to share in the enduring enthusiasm for this magnificent star athlete in the heart of horse country.”

The 20 equine contestants in the Secretariat Look-Alike Contest represent the final group of film hopefuls. A distinguished panel of racing celebrities who knew Secretariat best, including Hall of Fame Triple Crown winning jockey Ron Turcotte and Meadow Stable exercise riders Charlie Davis and Jim Gaffney, will join Hendrickson in choosing the top three winners to share the $5,000 in prize money.

Other racing celebrities making Festival appearances and signing autographs include:

  • Jean Cruguet – 1977 Triple Crown winning jockey aboard Seattle
  • Bobby Ussery – 1967 Hall of Fame Kentucky Derby winning jockey
  • Mike Manganello – 1970 Kentucky Derby winning jockey
  • Bill Nack – Author of Secretariat: The Making of a Champion.

“I am certain with this presence of Hollywood, the 2009 Bourbon County Secretariat Festival will be charged with an even higher level of excitement this year,” said Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery. “I am just delighted that our story is still receiving such incredible attention.”

Filming for Walt Disney Pictures’ Secretariat is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. The film stars Diane Lane as Chenery.

The 2009 Bourbon County Secretariat Festival will be held at the county fairgrounds in Paris, Ky., on Saturday, Sept. 26. In addition to equine demonstrations and competitions, an art, craft and memorabilia show, and tours of Claiborne Farm, the Festival will host a miniature horse exhibition and the Secretariat 5K Big Red Run/Walk through some of the most scenic areas in the heart of horse country. For more information, click the corresponding links at

Mark Ciardi, Randall Wallace, Secretariat's exercise rider Jimmy Gaffney and actress Diane Lane in the Belmont paddock.

Mark Ciardi, Randall Wallace, Secretariat's exercise rider Jimmy Gaffney and actress Diane Lane in the Belmont paddock.


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