On Saturday, American Pharoah galloped into history when he won the Belmont Stakes, after coming in first at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and thus became the first American Triple Crown winner since 1978.
American Pharoah's victory came after the longest drought of American Triple Crown winners in thoroughbred racing history, and many had come to believe that it was a feat that may never be accomplished again. So, when the plucky horse rocketed past the finish line and into the history books, it was like a scene from a movie!
Which got us thinking about some of the greatest movie horses in celluloid history. Often relegated to the role of sidekick or foil, rarely does the loyal beast get his or her due -- even in movies named after them! So, in celebration of American Pharoah's Hollywood-esque ride to victory, let's take a look at some of film's greatest equestrian heroes.
Movie: Tangled (2010)
Would Tangled have been nearly as awesome without the (surprisingly well-developed) character of Maximus the horse, who starts off as a staunch defender of the law, but learns that right and wrong are shades of subtle greys? No, it wouldn't. Maximus is the glue that holds Tangled together.
Movie: Hidalgo (2004)
A legendary mustang, Hidalgo carried American distance rider and cowboy Frank Hopkins (played by Viggo Mortensen) to a hard-fought victory in the 3,000 mile Middle Eastern "Ocean of Fire" race, which almost cost him and Frank their lives. He's one of the most badass horses in any movie, and the fact that he's based on a real legendary horse just makes him cooler.
Movie: Seabiscuit (2003)
While this particular horse isn't fictional, and the film is a bio-pic of the horse's celebrated career, we had to include Seabiscuit on a list of movie horses inspired by American Pharoah's triumph. Seabiscuit was a horse who rose from obscurity to become one of the most popular and beloved thoroughbreds of all time, during the Great Depression, when Americans needed to hopeful, popular figure more than ever.
(We would have included Secretariat, since Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, but Seabiscuit is just such an inspiring horse…)
4. The Black
Movie: The Black Stallion (1979)
The Black, which is the name given to the eponymous wild, black Arabian stallion, is riding on a ship with a young boy when the ship sinks. The boy and the horse become stranded on a deserted island, where they befriend one another, and become inseparable after being rescued. The boy then begins training the wild stallion to be a championship race horse.
Movie: War Horse (2011)
Joey is a beloved horse who, during World War I, is sold to the British Army and is sent to France, despite the protests of his young own Albert, who isn't old enough to enlist and serve with his horse. Joey's series of war time adventures are harrowing and fascinating.
Movie: The Lone Ranger (2013)
While the movie might not be everyone's favorite, the Lone Ranger's trusty companion, who is also magic in the movie, for some reason, is one of the best parts of the film. Aside from the fact that he's next-to-impervious to injury and can apparently fly and/or teleport, he's got a great personality (and delivers one of the best performances in the movie).