The Racing Journal Logo

Cyclone Larry, star of Secretariat, profiled in TRJ—The Racing Journal


October 8, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

He couldn’t attend the premier, but Cyclone Larry, a Thoroughbred retired from racing at North Dakota Horse Park, is one of the stars of the new Disney movie Secretariat. Cyclone Larry answered the casting call in August of 2009, and was chosen by the movie’s head horse wrangler, Rusty Hendrickson, as one of three or four horses for the leading role. Hendrickson was also in charge of horse selection for such recent major motion pictures as Seabiscuit and Dreamer.

TRJ—The Racing Journal profiled the equine star in its September 2009 issue:
In preparation for the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures’ movie “Secretariat,” Mayhem Pictures, the producers of the film, conducted an open, online casting call for horses to portray the legendary 1973 Triple Crown winner.

When the casting call went out nationwide for horses to fill the main role, North Dakota Horse Park General Manager Heather Benson answered. Cyclone Larry, a 3-year-old Thoroughbred racehorse currently residing at the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo, North Dakota was recently chosen by the movie’s head horse wrangler, Rusty Hendrickson, as one of three or four horses that will share the leading role. Hendrickson was also in charge of horse selection for such recent major motion pictures as “Seabiscuit” and “Dreamer.”

In stating his needs for the leading role, he described his ideal candidate. “The three main qualities I’m looking for in a horse to portray Secretariat are looks, temperament and soundness,” said Hendrickson. “A big flashy chestnut would obviously have an inherent advantage, but I’m going to need at least two main Secretariats and perhaps four stand-ins. I know that he was one of a kind, but we’ll do the best we can. A calm temperament is particularly key, especially when multiple takes are involved. But applicants need not feel that they must have an identical looking horse to be considered. We can do wonders with equine makeup for the white facial markings and the three white socks. Our horses need to be sound—but racing experience is not a necessity. And Secretariat’s short back and round hip are somewhat reminiscent of American Quarter Horses, so owners of that breed should also feel free to make submissions,” he announced in the casting call.

“They were looking for a big, bright chestnut Thoroughbred with a happy attitude and good health and ‘Larry’ fit that to a T” said Benson. “We sent in his photos and biography to their website, www.secretariat.com, and a week later Larry got the call to Hollywood!”

The movie will begin filming at the end of 2009 and should be released sometime in the summer of 2010. Hendrickson plans to ship Larry to the Kentucky-based training center for the production company, where he will begin the training necessary to prepare him for his onscreen role. Until then, the new Hollywood “star” will reside at the North Dakota Horse Park and remain in training.

Secretariat has received numerous favorable reviews, including two thumbs up and four stars from Roger Ebert. “It is a great film about greatness, the story of the horse and the no less brave woman who had faith in him,” writes Ebert. (Read Roger Ebert’s entire review at http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101006/REVIEWS/101009986/1023.)

To further commemorate the movie opening, Daily Racing Form, Secretariat.com, and the NTRA have co-published a full-color, 88-page custom commemorative magazine. The magazine recalls Secretariat's remarkable career with in-depth profiles of his 1972 and 1973 seasons, official program pages, race charts, and descriptions of each of Secretariat's 21 starts. To order the Secretariat Commemorative Magazine ($9.95 + $3.25 s&h), go to http://www.ntra.com/content/learnmore/display/81.