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SEABISCUIT

About The Production
In 1996, while working on an article on an unrelated subject, writer Laura Hillenbrand came across some material about the owner and the trainer of a Depressionera racehorse named Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand, who got on her first horse at the age of five, had brought together her love of horses and history by writing for Equus and a variety of other publications. She first read about Seabiscuit as a child and encountered him again and again in her work as a fan and chronicler of horseracing. While she knew the story of the knobby-kneed horse and his strange and inspiring career, she knew little about the people around him—the owner, the trainer and the jockey. She had little idea that her discovery that day would lead to a publishing phenomenon. 

Four years later, Hillenbrand submitted the book for publication. From the beginning, her expectations were modest. "I was thinking,” remembers Hillenbrand, "‘If I can sell 5000 copies out of the trunk of my car, I'll be happy.' I just wanted to tell the story.” 

So the author wasn't prepared for the call she received from her editor informing her that after only five days on sale, the book had already made it onto the best-seller list, debuting at No. 8. The following week it rose to No. 2 and, the week after that, Seabiscuit, An American Legend topped the list at No. 1. 

The response to the book from critics and the public was overwhelming. Named one of the best books of the year by more than twenty publications—including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, People, USA Today, and The Economist— Seabiscuit was also honored as the BookSense Nonfiction Book of the Year and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. The hardcover edition remained on The New York Times Best-Seller List for 30 weeks; the paperback edition debuted on the list the week of April 14, 2002, and hasn't left since (remaining there for more than 60 weeks). 

In addition to being one of Hollywood's most gifted storytellers, director and screenwriter Gary Ross is also a long-time fan of horseracing. Ross' love for racing started early on—he asked his parents if he could have his bar mitzvah at the racetrack. He and his wife, executive producer Allison Thomas, had spent a fair amount of time at the track before they came across an article about three men and an unlikely racehorse named Seabiscuit entitled "Four Good Legs Between Us” in a little-known publication called American Heritage. The author was Laura Hillenbrand. 

A heavy bidding war for the film rights to the proposed book ensued and then Ross decided to make a call to Hillenbrand.

"I talked to her about horseracing,” recalls Ross, who spent two hours on the phone with the author, "and specifically about Secretariat's Belmont, which to me is still the most amazing athletic achievement ever.” 

Hillenbrand sensed Ross' enthusiasm for horseracing. But more importantly, she believed that he loved the story for the same reasons she did. 

The forgotten and almost discarded horse that rose to become the most popular and winning-est horse of its time was compelling, but Hillenbrand says the focus of her interest lay elsewhere. 

She explains, "Lots of my readers say ‘I've never been to a horse race' or ‘I don't like horses,' but they say they liked the story. I think that's because of the people in it— and that was always my focus, these three men. That's why the cover of the book doesn't have the horse's head on it. I made a very deliberate decision to focus on the faces of the people so that you know this is a human story.” 

Behind the story of a famous racehorse was indeed a phenomenally human story, writ large across the dramatic landscape of a momentous period in American history and told with all of the thrill and excitement of Thoroughbred racing in its heyday. 

It was the beginning

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