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Seabiscuit: the acceptance speech

In a Mr. Ed move, Fighting Furrari tells how he landed the role and thanks the little people.

August 07, 2003|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer

Jan. 7, 2004, Golden Globe Awards

The following is the acceptance speech given by Fighting Furrari at last night's 61st annual Golden Globe Awards. The horse and nine other horses were named best supporting actor for their roles as Seabiscuit.

Also nominated in the best supporting actor category were Chris Cooper ("Seabiscuit"), Billy Bob Thornton ("The Alamo"), Viggo Mortensen ("Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King") and James Woods ("Northfork").

Fighting Furrari: "Wow ... Phew (neighs; cocks head several times and flicks tail, waiting for applause to die down). God, I love my life (snorts).

"I have to thank my manager, Gavin Polone, and my agent, Bryan Lourd. You two appeared at my door telling me I could act. This was after I finished fifth in a $7,000 claiming race. I was pretty dejected and you guys came to my barn to talk about the legend of Seabiscuit. I was aware of the book, though I hadn't read it. That day, Gavin and Bryan introduced me to a man named Rusty Hendrickson, who was casting for 'Seabiscuit,' the motion picture. Goodbye River Downs, hello the Four Seasons on Doheny.

"I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for this award. You know, this moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Mr. Ed and the pig from 'Babe' and all the nameless, faceless animals who now stand a chance because the door has opened. The barn door, if you will.

"I'm not sure if you are aware, but acting still isn't an accepted career for a retired thoroughbred. Much like Hollywood, ageism exists in racing, too: You turn 5 years old and people think you're over the hill.

"Oh sure, some of us go out to stud, where we make love in pastures for the rest of our lives. But not all of us are blessed with the kind of Beyer ratings or stakes race history it takes to get sold into a tranquil life of pasture sex.

"And then there are the lesser-told stories, of horses that end up in more tragic circumstances. This can happen even to champions. And so tonight, I want to dedicate this Golden Globe to Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby, who sadly found himself in a Japanese slaughterhouse at the end of his life last year. Ferdinand, this is for you (whinnies as applause builds to crescendo. His co-stars tap their hooves).

"To everyone at Universal Pictures and DreamWorks and Spyglass Entertainment, thank you for your passion. Thanks to Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy and Jane Sindell for your undying devotion to getting the story of Seabiscuit onscreen.

"To my fellow nominees, Billy Bob and Viggo and Jimmy Woods and especially the incredible Chris Cooper, it is an honor to be counted in your company. A special thanks to my co-stars, Jeff Bridges and Bill Macy and Gary Stevens and Tobey Maguire. Tobey, I still say a flush beats three of a kind, but I'll take your word for it (pauses for laughter to subside, whinnies). No, seriously, Tobey, it was a thrill to let you sit on my back and dig your heels into my sides and whip me take after take.

"Finally, this movie would not have been possible had it not been for two people and one horse. Gary Ross, you are such a mad perfectionist and I thank you for that. (The band starts playing.) Oh my God, I'm running out of time and they're telling me the stage is starting to smell.

"Laura Hillenbrand, thank you for giving the world a book we can all treasure forever (applause, the band is playing louder now). Seabiscuit, thanks for your heart. You were a true champion, and I'm honored to have portrayed you. God bless you all, and God bless America!"

(One Two Step Too walks to the microphone as Fighting Furrari steps away. By now, the other horses are turning to walk offstage, and One Two Step Too has to shout to be heard over the music and applause.)

"Thanks Mom and Dad for everything, to everyone back at Saratoga, the trainers, the grooms, the hotwalkers, and everyone in the office, thanks. Krispy Kreme, I love you."

Paul Brownfield can be contacted at

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