Secretariat—Movie Review

Secretariat—Movie Review

By: Stacey Tuttle

This is about out life being ahead of you and you run at it.

Ever had to truly “bet the farm”?   Ever had to risk everything?  No back-up.  No plan B.  Ever had to risk it all on someone or some thing else?  Now, I am a sucker for inspirational, true, sports stories, and I am a horse lover, but the thing about Secretariat which captivated me was not the horse.  Granted, he is probably the greatest race horse of all time.  And he might have made a fantastic story no matter who his owner was.  But, his owner was Penny Chenery Tweedy, a tenacious woman who did bet the farm with no back-up and no plan B…on a horse…and not just any horse, an unborn colt. 

That’s right.  She initially staked it all on an unborn colt…and then, when he came of racing age, not only did she stake everything she had on the horse.  She also convinced investors to invest in the horse, guaranteeing them unheard of results. 

There is a fine line between faith and lunacy.  Is it wise to risk it all on an animal?  Maybe not.  Probably not.  But Penny Tweedy makes an interesting statement about why she is willing to go to such extremes.  She explains that the point isn’t the horse.  She isn’t betting it all on him for his sake.  It’s not really about the horse at all.  He is nothing more than an opportunity.  Not just an opportunity to win, to save the farm, to keep her father’s legacy in tact…but an opportunity to do something so much greater.  It’s an opportunity for her to show others what it is to run after life.  It’s an opportunity for her to show her family what it is to not just live safe, but to believe in something, have faith and do something extraordinary.  She isn’t risking it all for money, but for the opportunity for greatness.  She says, “I’m not gonna live in regret.  I’m gonna see that horse run.  And we are gonna live rejoicing.”

She is posing a pretty serious choice here:  to live in regret, or to live rejoicing.  And it seems the distance between the two is equal the size of the risk involved.  And they did live rejoicing!  Secretariat not only won the Triple Crown, but he set records at both the Derby and the Triple Crown which have still not been broken.    

The horse was just an opportunity for Mrs. Tweedy, but the principle is that she recognized the significance of all that Secretariat might represent.  She saw something others couldn’t see, and it wasn’t the horse.  Others could see he had talent and potential.  Lots of horses have talent and potential.  She saw something so much more extraordinary.  An incredible horse, sure…and certainly she was able to see the horse’s potential before anyone else could.  But I think her passion came from a desire to be a part of something extraordinary. 

So what about the rest of us who don’t have a race horse to be the farm on?  What opportunities do we have for greatness, for something extraordinary?  When do we have the chance to run at life? 

While I cannot tell you what it may be exactly, specifically for your life and your situation, here is what I can tell you, in some way, I believe we all have that opportunity.  However, it may not come quite in the form you are expecting.  It may not be something which brings national recognition, or really any recognition.  And it may not be something which brings you money or success (at least as the world sees it). 

Here is what I can tell you.  There is a God who loves you and has a plan for your life.[1]  He can help you to recognize those moments of opportunity, and give you courage to seize them.  He has planned for you to have an impact on the world.  He has planned for you to make His name great among the nations.  And He has a fantastic track record of taking ordinary people and working through them to accomplish extraordinary things!   Should I remind you for a second of some of the Christian hall-of-fame? 

  • David and Goliath – little shepherd boy takes on massive giant (which the entire army had been afraid to face) with nothing more than a sling-shot and stones.  Talk about betting the farm!  He risked his life to kill the giant who dared to insult God and his people.  Result:  David kills Goliath and is an inspiration to others for thousands of years.
  • Daniel and his friends – Before they face a fiery furnace and a den of hungry, angry lions, Daniel and his friends risk looking like idiots when they tell their captors that their Jewish diet will make them better than all the other slaves, if allowed to follow it.  Result:  they were better in every way, after just 10 days.  They were able to interpret dreams and given places of high honor and influence in the kingdom.  Then, when facing certain death via the fiery furnace, or the lion’s den.  They still bet their lives on the power, love and sovereignty of their God.  They continued to worship him even though they knew they would face certain death.  They boldly said their God could save them.  And he did.  Result:  Kings and nations were inspired to worship the one true God.  Daniel and his friends are famous heroes of the faith to this day.
  • Abraham too believed that Jehovah God was worth following, so much so that he was willing to kill his only son to prove it.  Result:  His son was spared and blessed by God because of Abe’s obedience.  And again, Abraham is a hero.
  • Noah built an ark on dry ground, preparing for a flood, before there had ever been any incidence of rain on the earth, out of obedience to God.  Result:  His family and animals of the earth were saved from annihilation.
  • George Muller built orphanages and ministered to thousands of orphans during his lifetime.  But the most amazing thing is that Muller never once asked for any money from anyone.  He wanted to live as an example that God was sufficient to provide all that he and the countless orphans in his care ever needed.  Result:  Not only were thousands upon thousands of orphans provided for, but his example has been an inspiration to Christians around the world.

I could go on and on.  You need look no further than the Bible for plenty of encouragement and inspiration.  However, the stories of God’s call to greatness and the opportunity to do the extraordinary are by no means limited to the Bible.  I encourage you, reader, that while you may do extraordinary things by the world’s standards, that is no safe-guard from regret.  The only safe-guard from regret is following the call of God in your life.  That distance in your life between living in regret vs. rejoicing is the distance to which you are willing to whole-heartedly obey and follow God.    Let me encourage you that Jesus is ahead of you.  Run at him!

There are a couple of additional resources I would like to recommend which relate to this topic:

  • The Call:  Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of your life, by Os Guinness.   
  • Radical:  Taking back your faith from the American Dream, by David Platt.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Have you ever “bet the farm” on something?  Was it worth it?
  • What is in it your life which might be that opportunity for greatness? 
  • What do you think that God may be calling you to do?
  • Has your life typically been characterized by regret or rejoicing?  What do you think will change that?
  • Do you see a connection between obeying God and doing something great?
  • Do you think you can do something great in the world’s eyes, but still have regrets?
  • I said it was a fine line between faith and lunacy?  Do you know people who you think live in radical faith?  Do you know people who you would say have crossed the line to lunacy?  Are those two always the same, or do you think there is a distinction?
  • Who are your heroes?  Would you say that they are people who have run at life or run at Jesus? 
  • Do you think Penny Chennery Tweedy would have felt the risk was worth it if Secretariat had lost?  In the movie, before his final race, she said that she won because she didn’t quit, whether or not he won the race.  Do you think that’s true?


[1] Jeremiah 29:11