Seabiscuit movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Seabiscuit filmed?

2003

About Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit is a 2003 American sports movie based on the life of Thoroughbred racehorse Seabiscuit. The movie adaptation is based on the 1999 book by Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit: An American Legend. This book contains facts about Seabiscuit, the horse, his birth, life, career graph, wins, and defeats. Seabiscuit rose to great success because of his lineage as the grandson of Man O War (another legendary racehorse from the early 1900s) and his win over the 1937 Triple Crown winner, War Admiral. Seabiscuit won this incredible race in a two-horse special by four horse lengths at the Pimlico Racecourse. He was voted the American Horse of the Year in 1938.

The film closely follows the life, challenges, and victories of Seabiscuit the horse as he is groomed and cared for by his owners, Charles Howard (portrayed by Jeff Bridges) and Marcela Zabala-Howard (Elizabeth Banks), his trainer Tom Smith (portrayed by Chris Cooper), and jockey John' Red' Pollard (portrayed by Tobey Maguire).

The movie starts with the back story of Charles Howard and how he rose from a bicycle salesman to become the richest and largest car dealer in California's Bay Area. He acquires property, expands, and loses his son to an accident, after which his wife leaves him. Post his divorce, Howard remarries Marcela Zabala and invests in the racehorse Seabiscuit. While Howard is progressing, the Pollard family is hit with a major financial crisis during the Great Depression, and John 'Red' Pollard is sent to live with a horse trainer who makes him a successful jockey. Simultaneously, Howard hires horse trainer Tom Smith for Seabiscuit, who in turn gets Red Pollard on board.

What follows is a remarkable journey of three broken men and a broken horse who overcome all their obstacles and hurdles in life to come out victorious together.

City Locations

California, New York State, Kentucky

Location Types

American, Architectural, House, Mansions, NatureScapes, Ranch, Retro, Rustic, Hospitals, Industrial, Diners

Location Styles

Americana, Bohemian, Classic Car, Dated, Southern/ Georgian, Motor, Southwestern, Racing, Ranch Style

Seabiscuit Locations

Fans wanting to visit Seabiscuit locations need to consider three states in the US ā€“ Kentucky, New York State, and California. Most of the filming is done in these three locations. The racetrack scenes and the ones where the horses are being trained and exercised are all done on farms in Kentucky in a controlled environment with plenty of Animal Rights representatives present to ensure no animals were harmed or overworked. The production team did an excellent job finding locations and places that fit with the original Seabiscuit story from the early 1900s with the modernity of the shooting spaces.

Fans who want more filming locations (apart from the ones below) can also visit Normandy Farm in Kentucky. This farm is the film shoot location for the recon mission to spy on the legendary thoroughbred War Admiral. However, it is best to get prior permission since Normandy Farm is not always open to visitors.

Teaser: Visitors who want to see the location of the filming of the epic final race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral should head out to the Keeneland Racetrack at Lexington in Kentucky..

Fun fact:

There were over 10 horses who all played the role of Seabiscuit to ensure that no horses were harmed or stressed during the filming. Throughout the film, for all the other scenes with horses on various farms, a total of 40 horses were used, including all the races.

The Pollard family storytime scene in Seabiscuit

The Stiff Farm, Kentucky

The Pollard family was a well-off, well-to-do family with a large farm and home before the Great Depression hit. Mr. Pollard (Michael O'Neill) is an educated man who likes to read to his children. Before the family is at the table, Mr. and Mrs. Pollard watch their son ride a horse. Mr. Pollard wants to buy his son, John 'Red' Pollard, a horse, but the mother wants her son to earn the horse instead.

At the table is a clamor of the Pollard siblings, with each wanting their father to choose an author of their liking. Audiences can hear shouts of "Tennyson! Emerson! Longfellow!" Mr. Pollard tries to school the children, "Alright, quiet. Dickens." The children are overjoyed and start smiling. Mr. Pollard starts reading, "We never know how high we are." His son, young John' Red' Pollard (young Michael Angarano), interrupts, "Oh. I know that." His father looks at him expectantly. So Red continues, "We never know how high we are till we are called to rise."

The Pollard family home filming location of Seabiscuit is just off US 460 in Kentucky, to the west of Paris Pike. The farmlands are not open to visitors without prior permission. Getting here is relatively straightforward by following US 460 W. The farm is on the left.

Tom guiding the Howards about purchasing racehorses scene in Seabiscuit

Saratoga Racetrack, New York

In this scene, Tom Smith (portrayed by Chris Cooper) is seen guiding and discussing racehorses with Charles Howard (played by Jeff Bridges) and Marcela Zabala-Howard (Elizabeth Banks). The Howards want to purchase new racehorses to compete in the races, and they have hired Tom as the new trainer.

While pointing to some horses, Tom tells them, "It ain't just the speed. It's the heart. You want something that's not afraid to compete. Half these horses are just show ponies. You want something that's not gonna run from a fight." Howards asks Tom, "How do you find that?" Since they want a good quality horse with a fighting spirit, they keep searching.

Throughout the movie, there are scenes featuring the Saratoga Racetrack. The Seabiscuit production team decided to film the scenes at the original Saratoga Racetrack to retain authenticity. It opened in 1863 and featured in several songs, books, and movies. Getting to this racetrack is quite simple, owing to its incredible popularity. Most new jockeys and racehorses still practice at this track.

Hop onto bus number 875 and hop off at the Nelson Ave & Wright St stop. From this stop, the walk to the entrance of the racetrack is only 2 minutes.

Tom sees Seabiscuit the horse for the first-time scene in Seabiscuit

Calumet Farm, Kentucky

In this scene, Seabiscuit the horse is a young colt. He is the son of Hard Tack, who was sired by the legendary horse Man O War. The movie's narrator talks about how Tom saw Seabiscuit walking, "The first time he saw Seabiscuit, the colt was walking through the fog at 5 am in the morning. Smith would say later that the horse looked right through him, as if to say, 'What the hell are you looking at? Who do you think you are?'"

Seabiscuit was relatively small for a horse and not tall, slender, and powerful like his sire. When Tom sees him for the first time, Seabiscuit is hurting and walking with a limp. The poor horse is also wheezing heavily. The narrator goes on to say that none of these things bothered Tom Smith at all. Tom kept looking straight into the eyes of the horse and saw the fire banked in them. Smith stares at Seabiscuit, shakes his head, and says, "G*d d**n!"

The Seabiscuit filming location chosen as the farm for the introduction to Seabiscuit the horse is the Calumet Farm in Kentucky. Calumet is on the Man O War Boulevard, with the farm famous for its racehorses. Getting here is quite straightforward via KY-4 to US-60 W/ Versailles Rd.

Red and Seabiscuit galloping over a stone bridge scene in Seabiscuit

Xalapa Farm, near Paris Pike, Kentucky

Seabiscuit, the horse, is quite unruly, angry, and wild. Tom hires John 'Red' Pollard (Tobey Maguire) as Seabiscuit's jockey since Seabiscuit calms down only for Red. Tom realizes that Seabiscuit has forgotten how to behave like a horse since all his training was always centered around letting other horses win and overtake him. Tom tells the Howards, "He's so beat up, it's hard to tell what he's like. I just can't help feeling like they got him so screwed up running in a circle, he's forgotten what he was born to do."

Red asks Tom, "How far do you want me to take him?" Tom says, "Till he stops." Red smiles and says, "Okay. That seems like a pretty good ride." Tom smiles back and replies, "Hope so!" Red takes off with Seabiscuit and says to the magnificent horse, "That's it, boy! You're alright. Let's see what you got."

This Seabiscuit film scene was shot at the stunning Xalapa Farm (Hill ā€˜nā€™ Dale) near Paris Pike in Kentucky. The farmlands are gorgeous with water bodies, verdant green fields, and clear skies. Visitors will need prior permission before entering to see the famous stone bridge and walk to the open areas. To get here, take US 460 East to N Middletown Rd, and follow the Common Rd till you reach Xalapa Farm.

Tom complains about Red being blind in one eye scene in Seabiscuit

Santa Anita Racetrack, California

Seabiscuit goes up against other prestigious racehorses like Special Agent, Indian Broom, and Rosemont. Tom gives plenty of practical advice to Red but warns him that Rosemont will fight Seabiscuit for the finish line right towards the end. Red nods his head and agrees with everything. However, Rosemont beats Seabiscuit to finish first in the race. When Tom questions Red about the race, Red Pollard screams, "I thought I had it! I couldn't see him! I can't see out there!"

Tom storms out toward Howard and says, "He lied to us! You want a jockey who lies to us? He can't see! He's blind in one eye." Howard smiles in understanding and says, "It's fine, Tom," and reminds Tom of his words, "You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little bit."

This is one of the most iconic Seabiscuit locations in the movie. Many of the races are shot at the Santa Anita Racetrack in California. In the film, even the first race Seabiscuit wins is at the Santa Anita Racetrack. Hop onto the 179 Arcadia L Line and get off at Huntington/ Centennial. If you walk for 3 minutes, you will reach the entrance to the racetracks.

Charles Howard gives a speech at the station scene in Seabiscuit

Los Angeles Union Station, California

In this scene, Charles Howard is standing at Union Station before announcing that they are heading to New York with Seabiscuit for the match race. He is surrounded by reporters, all throwing questions at him about the race Seabiscuit lost because of the jockey, Red Pollard.

Charles Howard tells the reporters he has a couple of announcements to make, "First, Red Pollard will remain Seabiscuit's jockey, now and forever. Second, if they're too scared to come and race us, we're gonna go find them. We're going to enter every race where War Admiral is on the card, and if he scratches, which he probably will, we'll enter the next race he's on the card. And we won't come home until we've faced him, win, lose, or draw." Charles shakes his head and looks at the reporters, saying, "You know, I'd rather have one horse like this than a hundred War Admirals. Thanks, fellas."

Most people felt this was one of the best scenes in Seabiscuit, apart from the exciting races. It shows Charles Howard's unwavering faith in his horse, trainer, and jockey. Getting to Los Angeles Union Station, where this scene was shot, is simple. Just hop onto any of the metros that halt at Union.

Conclusion

Seabiscuit is the poignant story of how lives get intertwined and emotional attachments are formed in times of trouble. While it is the story of one of the greatest racehorses in America, many view it as a story of courage, loyalty, and perseverance. Seabiscuit was instrumental in showing the world a glimpse into the lives of people involved with racehorses, their training, upkeep, and most importantly, their care. The movie was a hit because it showed people the horses' incredible personalities, moods, and spirits.

The Seabiscuit action scenes, training shots, racetrack scenes, and more were perfectly paired with the emotional rollercoaster that the production team wanted audiences to experience. The surrounding geography, like greenery, racetracks, and farmlands, was excellent for filming Seabiscuit, especially considering all the places the original Seabiscuit traveled with his owner, trainer, and jockey.

In many ways, Seabiscuit saved and bonded with the three men in his life as much as they connected with him.