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Case Number 21530: Small Claims Court

Buy Thoroughbred: Born To Run at Amazon

Thoroughbred: Born To Run

PBS // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 11th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson was born to run. And love.

The Charge

Born to run.

The Case

With the Kentucky Derby in our rearview and the promise of a Triple Crown winner once again jettisoned into outer space, why not get some more horse action to fill in for those trips between the Preakness and OTB?

PBS is here with a 90-minute documentary on horse racing in general and the science of the thoroughbred specifically. Filmmaker Paul Wagner took his cameras and followed a selection of owners, trainers and their horses as they prepared for the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

With these separate plotlines as the guide, Wagner fleshes them out with history on horseracing, gambling and the incredibly complex—and lucrative—industry of developing thoroughbred bloodlines. From the juice of the Arabians to the studs taking care of business for 30 large down south, we get the Full Monty on how these potential race machines come into their own. And as an added bonus: what goes down in a jockey locker room!

What is that jockeys say to each other before a big race? You'll have to tune in to discover the unvarnished truth. Snarkiness aside, Thoroughbred is a solid documentary, overflowing with pretty much everything you'd want to know about the sport of horse racing and all the extra-curriculum goings-on that surround it: the pomp and circumstance of Derby day, the heartbreak of notifying the world your prized horse and consensus number one can't run because of health concerns, the allure of losing boatloads of cash betting, the awkwardness of twenty tiny men crammed into one locker room.

This isn't a "gotcha" documentary either, though I'm certain, like any sport, horse racing could cough up unmentionables if prodded. No, Paul Wagner seems to have genuine affection for the sport and for the humans involved; there's heartbreak at play here, none more so groin-kicking as the I Want Revenge press conference or the extended shot of an owner and his family watching with stricken faces as their favored horse craters in the home stretch.

A decent DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, extra scenes and series of interviews.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Even if the sport isn't your bag, this is some interesting stuff.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Scenes
• Interviews


• IMDb

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