09/07/2010 3:49PM

Evangeline Training Center has big role in 'Secretariat' film

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Mark Guidry might have retired from the saddle in 2007, but he spent much of this past spring race riding. But it was not in the conventional sense. Guidry worked on the movie “Secretariat” for about six weeks during part of its shoot at the Evangeline Downs Training Center near Lafayette, La.

The film is now about four weeks from release, and Guidry and several other Louisiana-based horsemen are anxious to see the finished product. Guidry had helped put together a group of locals to participate in the racing scenes, among them Kerwin Clark, Ricky Faul, and C.J. Woodley.

“We all had a great time doing it,” said Guidry, 51.

The movie follows the career of Secretariat, who won the Triple Crown in 1973.

“They tried to recreate each race and tried to do it as close as they could,” said Guidry, who also was in racing scenes filmed at Churchill Downs. “I just rode in some of the races. I wasn’t an actor. You couldn’t tell faces. The main characters were Ron Turcotte and Laffit Pincay, so they focused on that. [But] we did do one scene in the track kitchen.”

Guidry won more than 5,000 races as a jockey and now is a trainer with a stable based at the Evangeline Downs Training Center. Glenn Delahoussaye, another trainer at the facility, estimated the local Secretariat shoot ran for about six months total, from last November to May.

“The movie production people were very cordial, they worked around our schedule, never interfered with anything,” Delahoussaye said. “It’s going to be real neat to see how the production transfers to the big screen, when you see it behind the scenes.

“There were some new barns that were just constructed that weren’t filled yet, and they used them for the movie. They made replicas. One was like a Churchill barn, one was a Pimlico barn, and one was a Belmont barn. And whatever racetrack they were filming, they had to redo the toteboard, and the winner’s circle and the grandstand. So we kind of had all three tracks. It was neat to see.”

The movie stars Diane Lane as Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, and John Malkovich as his trainer, Lucien Lauren. It is scheduled to be released Oct. 8.

Toro Bravo points to Legacy

Toro Bravo and Clear Sailing, a pair of stakes winners who started their summers at Louisiana Downs, both have fall stakes on the horizon, Delahoussaye said. The undefeated Toro Bravo won the $115,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity at Evangeline in his last start July 3. Delahoussaye said the horse is being pointed to the $250,000 Legacy for Louisiana-breds on the Delta Jackpot undercard at Delta Downs on Nov. 20.

“That’s the target,” he said. “We gave him some R&R after the ‘Shine’ Young. He goes back into active training mid-September. We just let him down a little bit. He’s a special kind of horse.”

Toro Bravo races for the Coteau Grove Farms operation of Keith and Ginger Myers. The Sunset, La., couple also owns Clear Sailing, winner of the $58,000 Pelleteri at Fair Grounds in February.

“We’re going to send Clear Sailing to Churchill Downs,” Delahoussaye said. “I’ve talked to [trainer] Bret Calhoun, and he’s going to help us with her. There’s a race at Presque Isle Downs in mid-September, and then hopefully, we’ll get a race for her at Keeneland and then maybe another race late at Churchill before the Fair Grounds opens.”

At that point, Clear Sailing will return to the care of Delahoussaye, who also serves as the racing manager for Coteau Grove. Her upcoming option at Presque Isle is the $100,000 HBPA for fillies and mares Sept. 25.

Delahoussaye said Coteau Grove is an emerging operation. The Myers purchased the $111,000 sales-topping yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Texas sale last month. The colt is a half-brother to Toro Bravo. In all, the Myers have about 20 horses in training, with 10 quality mares at their farm. Delahoussaye said this past season the mares have produced Louisiana-bred babies by such sires as Curlin, Elusive Quality, and Medaglia d’Oro.

◗ Jockey Austin Lovelace won his first race since 2003 last Friday at Louisiana Downs, aboard Bag O’Glitter. He returned to race-riding in early August after leaving the sport to work at an auto plant that closed. Lovelace can win Thursday’s fifth race with Pecks Top Cat.