The folks at Disney offer another pat, pedestrian treatment of a remarkable sports story, a la Miracle, Glory Road, The Rookie
, and Invincible
(which, admittedly, also had its good moments). This time it's the tale of the famed thoroughbred and his legendary 1973 run at horse racing's Triple Crown, told from the perspective of housewife-turned-racehorse owner Penny Chenery (Diane Lane). Chenery inherits the family breeding farm in Virginia from her ailing father (Scott Glenn) and, through guile and luck, lands a place in sports history. Director Randall Wallace has a firm grasp on the formidable scope of his subject; his rendering of Secretariat's astounding 31-length win at the Belmont Stakes is suitably sublime until he adds an overblown gospel-choir accompaniment down the home stretch. It's a feel-good, inoffensive story, peppered with the de rigueur eccentric cast of characters, including John Malkovich playing John Malkovich playing trainer Lucien Laurin. Although the film cuts many factual corners, it deserves credit for reserving screen time for Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis), Secretariat's renowned African-American groom.