Seabiscuit Short Essay


Topic: ‘The movie ‘Seabiscuit’ shows us that there are many different ways of being a hero. Discuss.’

Heroes have always played an important part in human history; but what does it take to be a true hero? The movie ‘Seabiscuit’ is a perfect example which displays many of the main qualities which defines the true meaning of the word hero. ‘Seabiscuit’ is set during the Great Depression; the period between 1930s and 1940s when America was a place full of financial turmoil and despair. During this time many people lost money and often, their life savings in the stockmarket when it crashed.

In the film, there are four main characters who display hero-like qualities; these characters include Charles Howard; the owner of Seabiscuit, an inventor and successful entrepreneur, Tom Smith; a horse whisperer, Red Pollard; Seabiscuit’s jockey and Seabiscuit; the undersized racehorse.

Charles Howard is a successful businessman who was able to upgrade the technology of automobiles by using his own wit and innovation. By doing this he became incredibly wealthy and became a car dealer instead of bike seller/mechanic. Charles Howard displays a number of hero-like qualities throughout the movie; these include determination, courage, dedication and bravery. Howard displays dedication and determination when he is given a new automobile to fix; he simply had no idea what to do as it didn’t come with a manual. However, he kept pressing on, learning and experimenting which was what pushed him to become a wealthy businessman. He shows courage and bravery when telling the world Seabiscuit was a great racehorse; a quote from the movie being, “Well, I just think this horse has a lot of heart. He may have been down, but he wasn’t out. He may have lost a few, but he didn’t let it get to him. I think I learned a lick or two from this little guy. Oh, and by the way, he doesn’t know he’s little. He thinks he’s the biggest horse out there.”

Tom Smith is a horse whisperer; very little about his past is revealed during the course of the movie however it is clearly apparent that he displays a number of hero-like qualities including selflessness, loyalty and sacrifice. Tom shows selflessness when he takes in an injured horse which is about to be put down under his own care; this is also an act of sacrifice as it takes away his time to perform other things which may have great importance to him. A quote from the movie highlights his selflessness towards the horse, “You don’t throw away a whole life just because he’s banged up a little.”

Red Pollard is the son of a once wealthy businessman who lost all of his fortunes due to the Great Depression. He takes up a variety of odd jobs before becoming a jockey to Seabiscuit. Red displays a number of hero-like qualities in the film including determination, loyalty and resilience. He displays determination when training Seabiscuit to become a great racehorse, he shows loyalty to Seabiscuit when he has a tragic accident where his leg is shattered; even so, he urges Charles to let Seabiscuit race to take the title of ‘America’s best racehorse’. Red also shows an amazing sense of resilience when his leg is shattered due to a riding accident; he slowly recovers and is eventually able to ride on Seabiscuit once again with the aid of a splint which he made for his leg.

Seabiscuit is an undersized racehorse who was poorly treated in its early stages of life. Seabiscuit shows a number of hero-like qualities including resilience and determination. Seabiscuit shows determination when it is clear he wants to win any race; he powers forward in front of the pack through to victory. Seabiscuit is also very resilient in the fact that he bounces back after breaking his leg after a fall during a race. He recovers with the help of Red Pollard to go on to win the Santa Anita race.

In conclusion, the film ‘Seabiscuit’ has a number of hero figures who were able to achieve great things by having their own hero-like qualities. By having these qualities, this group of four were able to achieve what many believed to be impossible.


Vincent Lam

9K (2012)

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The book tells the story of Seabiscuit, possibly the most famous American racehorse of all time, with special emphasis on the human beings who discovered him, trained him, and risked both their lives and their money on him.

Seabiscuit captured the nation's imagination at the height of the Great Depression. A classic underdog, the little horse with a big heart came back from what could have been a career ending injury to win the Santa Anita Handicap race in 1940. In an age when horses were becoming obsolete for travel and farming due to the popularity of automobiles, Seabiscuit and other equine athletes helped ensure that horse racing remained relevant as a sport.

The book begins by discussing Seabiscuit's owner, Ron Howard, a self-made multimillionaire who came to California in 1903 with a dream and a pocketful of change. He began by opening a bicycle repair store, recognized the potential of the new automobile technology, and acquired a Buick franchise. His automobiles were not widely accepted until the 1906 earthquake, when they became the only viable ambulances. Not long afterwards, Ron Howard became a very wealthy man. Tall, photogenic, and well aware of the importance of image, Ron Howard never completely recovered from the accidental death of his son, Frankie. His marriage collapsed not long afterwards. But after he married his second wife, Marcela, Howard took a renewed interest in horse racing. He and Marcela opened a stable in 1935 and bought Seabiscuit in 1936.

Seabiscuit's trainer, Tom Smith, was an old cowboy with an intuitive understanding of horse psychology. His unorthodox training techniques helped cure Seabiscuit of several of his bad habits, including stubbornness and laziness.

Seabiscuit's primary rider, John "Red" Pollard, was born in Edmonton, Alberta. A lover of classic literature and a man of many talents, Pollard lost most of the sight in one eye possibly as a result of an injury during his short boxing career. Plagued by injuries to his shoulder and his leg, Pollard's also struggled with alcohol.

Seabiscuit himself was born in late May 1933, so he was half a year younger than most of the racehorses in his age group. Racing against horces in low-stakes claiming races, he occasionally showed the speed associated with his sire, Hard Tack, but the constant racing and hard that kept him in shape also burned him out psychologically.

Tom Smith raced Seabiscuit selectively, avoiding the spotlight so as to keep Seabiscuit's handicap weight low. In February 1937 Seabiscuit lost the Santa Anita Handicap race by a nose, due most likely to jockey error because Pollard did not see another horse approaching on his blind side. After the Santa Anita loss, Seabiscuit won seven consecutive stakes races including the Butler Handicap and the Massachusetts Handicap despite carrying more weight than any other horse on the track due to the impost weight handicap intended to even out the racing field. However, Howard would not allow Seabiscuit to risk injury by carrying too much weight. Likewise, Seabiscuit had difficulty running in mud or wet weather.

The book covers Seabiscuit's second photo defeat at the 1938 Santa Anita Handicap, his somewhat controversial stakes race against Ligaroti, and his history-making defeat of War Admiral at Pimlico in 1938. It discusses the repeated rumors of a leg injury that dogged Seabiscuit through his career, and also the very real minor injury at Belmont and the rupture of his suspensory ligament in early 1939.

The third section of the book covers the dual comeback of Ron Pollard, whose leg was crippled in a racing accident, and Seabiscuit. The two finally won the Santa Anita Handicap race in 1940.

After winning the Santa Anita Handicap, Pollard continued as Howard's stable agent. He tried working as a trainer but ultimately returned to riding as long as he was physically able. Seabiscuit was put out to stud but died of an apparent heart attack at age fourteen.

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