Filmmakers seeking Secretariat look-alikes

Filmmakers working on Disney's movie Secretariat will be at the Bourbon County Secretariat Festival on Saturday, and one lucky horse just might fill a final slot in the stable of Thoroughbreds playing the superhorse.

The film's lead wrangler, Rusty Hendrickson, will be a judge in the annual Secretariat look-alike contest along with real Secretariat exercise riders Charlie Davis and Jim Gaffney, and Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat to his Triple Crown victory in 1973.

Three horses among a field of 20 will share the $5,000 prize, and one horse could be selected for the movie.

Hendrickson already has chosen four horses from among more than 700 hopefuls for the film.

Horse films typically use a stable of horses to portray equine characters because they can tire from multiple takes, and some horses are better at portraying certain types of scenes than others. The horse that looks great streaking to the finish line might not portray relaxing in the stable or interacting with people as well.

When Seabiscuit filmed in Central Kentucky in 2002, there were more than half a dozen horses each to portray the title character and War Admiral when their historic match race at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course was re-created at Keeneland.

In addition to the look-alike contest, Secretariat producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray of Mayhem Pictures will attend the festival with a film crew working on a behind-the-scenes feature.

"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," Ciardi said in a news release.

Secretariat is scheduled to begin filming in Central Kentucky next week.