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SEABISCUIT

Locations
Including the daily race meetings, which carried into production. At Santa Anita where the crew shot for nearly six weeks, Ross created a makeshift track on the linoleum floor inside the betting hall in the grandstands. Using electrical tape on the floor with plastic horses and toy trucks standing in for the full-sized versions, he would review the day's work with the crew, always bearing their race books in hand. 

Ross and the filmmakers were acutely aware of period authenticity—which usually translated into finding appropriate locations rather than coming to rely heavily on construction. In their trek to find locations that could stand in for some of the historic Meccas of the horseracing world during the Depression, Ross, Kennedy, Marshall and executive producer Robin Bissell toured the country's racetracks searching for suitable places in which they could recreate Seabiscuit's story. 

First Assistant Director Adam Somner relates, "There were three elements that were crucial while we were scouting: first, we wanted, as much as possible, to use the real places from the story; second, we looked for racetracks that hadn't been too modernized; and third, we needed to be able to have access to the tracks.” 

The group ended up crisscrossing the country, beginning with a 100 year-old stock farm in Hemet, California (used for the bug boy racing sequence). The company also utilized the track, grandstands and back area at the Pomona Fairplex in California (after some modification), which doubled for Tijuana's Agua Caliente racetrack. 

Following filming of scenes in Hemet and Pomona, California, location shooting moved to Saratoga to shoot scenes taking place in the New York City Jockey Club. From Saratoga, they went on to horse country, Lexington, Kentucky, home of Keeneland racetrack, to shoot the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral; for 14 days they worked to recreate the historic race, filling the grandstands and the infield with more than 3,500 extras. 

The filmmakers were lucky to have one of racing's greatest gems right in their back yard. Santa Anita Racetrack, which opened Christmas Day of 1934, nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, 14 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is a beautifully maintained track. The Art Deco creation of architect George Kaufmann, the picturesquely situated track still beautifully evokes the heyday of early 20th Century Thoroughbred racing. The scene of several milestones in Seabiscuit's career still stands as one of the world's most renowned sporting landmarks. 

The large and nearly empty racetrack was an ideal place to shoot a film in many respects. The company was allowed to use much of the vast space inside the grandstands for holding, dressing and making-up the thousands of extras on the big racing days; they were able to build a handful of small sets in which to shoot several scenes as well. This arrangement allowed Ross to shoot William H. Macy in Tick-Tock's lair simultaneously with the horse racing. 

The production had a set number of days they could shoot at the historic Santa Anita track. The company had to be out several days before the track opened for the season—there would be no exceptions. This meant that Ross had to find a way to double up the work, shooting the racing and the dramatic scenes at the same time. 

"I would be off shooting a dramatic scene,” recalls Ross. "The horse unit was on the track and I would be directing that via a wireless communication device, seeing the images transmitted to me on a separate set of monitors. It was a bit of a touring circus in that respect, a lot going on at once. Frank Marshall and I would talk throughout the day. Fortunately, I could see the images and since I had rehearsed all the work in the morning with everyone, it made it a manageable touring circus…but a touring circus nonetheless.” 

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