“50 to 1,” the new major motion picture about Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, opens in theaters March 21 in New Mexico and will then expand across the country, said producer, director, co-writer and racehorse owner Jim Wilson, Oscar-winning producer of “Dances With Wolves.”
The movie opens April 4 in Texas and Louisiana, April 11 in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and April 18 in Tennessee and Kentucky, Wilson said, adding that release dates in other states will be announced when they are finalized.
“We decided to open the film in New Mexico because it’s a New Mexico story,” Wilson said. “It’s about a very special group of people and their little racehorse who went up against impossible odds and ended up shocking the entire racing world with a victory like I’ve never seen before.”
The inspiring underdog film stars Skeet Ulrich (Jericho, “Scream,” “As Good As It Gets”), Christian Kane (Leverage, “Friday Night Lights,” “Secondhand Lions,” “Just Married”), William Devane (24, “The Dark Night Rises,” “Hollow Man”), Todd Lowe (True Blood, “The Princess Diaries,” Gilmore Girls), newcomer Madelyn Deutch and real-life jockey Calvin Borel, who plays himself in the picture.
Wilson and co-writer, co-producer Faith Conroy will join members of the cast at the film’s world premiere March 19 at the historic KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque.
The film was shot at more than 30 locations in New Mexico--from Santa Fe to Las Cruces--and multiple locations in Kentucky and California, including Sunland Park, Churchill Downs and Santa Anita Park racetracks, where Mine That Bird actually raced.
“We even shot in the real barn and stall where Mine That Bird stayed at Churchill Downs,” Wilson said.
The movie follows a fun-loving group of New Mexico cowboys who go on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. The cowboys face a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs, becoming the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world’s racing elite.
“I had been waiting for a great racehorse story for a very long time,” Wilson said, noting he had read numerous horse racing scripts throughout the years, but never found what he was looking for. “But when I watched what unfolded at the 2009 Kentucky Derby, I was stunned. I’ve always been a fan of true underdog stories, and after meeting the owners, trainer and finally Bird himself, I was hooked. This story had all the cinematic elements you could ask for. It’s been a real adventure and one I am proud to share with the world.”
Wilson won the Academy Award for Best Picture for “Dances With Wolves,” which he produced. Other producing credits include “The Bodyguard,” “Wyatt Earp,” “Swing Vote,” “Mr. Brooks” and “Message In A Bottle.” Wilson’s previous directing credits include “Head Above Water,” “Whirlygirl” and the critically-acclaimed documentary about Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., “Laffit: All About Winning.”
“This is a feel-good film,” Conroy said. “It’s a real romp, but it’s also a film with a great message of hope for dreamers of the world.”
Mine That Bird was born May 10, 2006, and began racing in 2008 in Canada, winning four of his first six starts. His career slumped after he was purchased by Mark Allen in the fall of 2008, going winless until his monumental upset at the 2009 Kentucky Derby at 50-to-1 odds. Mine That Bird continued his run for the Triple Crown that year, finishing second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes. He amassed $2,228,637 in earnings throughout his career, but never won another race in nine starts after his win at the Kentucky Derby. Mine That Bird was retired from racing in November 2010 and currently lives with his owners at Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, New Mexico.
“His favorite pastime is eating peppermints, ” Conroy said.