From Zero to Hero: the Story of the World’s Greatest Race Horse

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“Every horse is good for something,” said Tom Smith, a horse trainer, referring to the small, scrawny horse who would become one of the greatest race horses in American History, Seabiscuit. This quote proves that anything is possible and anyone can find light in the blackest darkness. In the book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, author Laura Hillenbrand wrote about the race horse Seabiscuit during the Great Depression, where many people lost hope in America. In spite of the difficult times, Seabiscuit brought hope back to the people through his racing.

Seabiscuit drew thousands of people to his races and helped them escape from their problems at home, and was their light in the darkness. In the newspapers, Seabiscuit drew great attention from the public, even more than the president, and helped American citizens through the Great Depression by his unlikely up-bringing, his racing success, and his unfortunate set-backs. Seabiscuit’s unlikely up-bringing was a contributing factor in his popularity because his story was very moving and touched the hearts of many fans.

In the movie Seabiscuit, (which based off of Hillenbrand’s book) Seabiscuit was born lame, and according to Tom Smith, he “…was a small horse, barely fifteen hands…there was a limp in his walk, [and] a wheezing when he breathed,” Seabiscuit (Ross, 2003). He used to be a practice horse for the better horses, and would lose to them to boost their moral. Seabiscuit was never destined to race professionally, but he proved everyone wrong when he stepped on the track. In proving everyone wrong he became one of the most talked about topics during his time.

Another reason for Seabiscuit’s popularity was his racing success and great racing victories. After the famous match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, Tick Tock McGlaughlin said: “No more match races for this little horse [Seabiscuit] because frankly they’re all out of matches. Who’s he going to race?.. I pity these horses,” Seabiscuit (Ross, 2003). At the time the main competitor for Seabiscuit was War Admiral, the winner of the Triple Crown; he beat him in a match race once, which was the only thing they were alking about in the papers.

This win only added to Seabiscuit’s fame. This race was especially popular because it was the West’s best (Seabiscuit) against the East’s best (War Admiral). The feud between the West and the East was very tense because it was the rich city folk vs. the poor cowboys. So, this race drew in thousands of fans to come and watch in the stands or listen on the radio. With all this media attention, the word of Seabiscuit’s success spread like wildfire, all while he was burning up the track.

A last indication of the source of Seabiscuit’s success was his unfortunate setbacks, one of which was Red Pollard, Seabiscuit’s jockey, because he was blind in one eye which prevented him from seeing the other horses on the track. Another major setback was when Red Pollard broke his leg and was unable to race. When Pollard asked Charles Howard, Seabiscuit’s owner, if he could race again, he was turned down but responded with: “I *was* crippled the rest of my life. I got better. He [Seabiscuit] made me better. Hell, you made me better,” Seabiscuit (Ross, 2003). With Pollard not able to race, a new jockey was found and replaced him.

The new jockey was Red’s best friend, George Woolf, who went on to win several races with Seabiscuit. Charles and Tom thought that George might even become a permanent replacement. But sometime later, Pollard was allowed to ride with Seabiscuit and they never looked out of stride; it was like riding a bike, you never forget. Thus, through Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, shows that anyone can be destined for greatness. Hillenbrand showed this by sharing Seabiscuit’s story with the world and telling of his amazing feats and his depressing downfalls.

But this only made him more famous in the horse racing world. While destroying records and defeating rivals, Seabiscuit became the most talked about horse in America. He also gave hope to many people during the Great Depression who had nothing and were dealing with some troubled times. Seabiscuit truly became the light in the darkness to those who had nothing. What was once an unwanted scrawny horse became something more than anyone expected. So while some horses are born to pull carts, this one was born to race.

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