Phil Castle,The Business Times
Tammy Allen vividly remembers watching the 2009 running of the Kentucky Derby on television — as well as her reaction when her brother’s horse, a 50-to-1 long shot, finished first. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.”
That moment — along with the story of the racehorse, owners and trainer who defied the odds — will be depicted in a movie that will be shown in a Colorado premier set for June 13 at Allen’s automotive museum in Grand Junction.
The event also will offer participants a chance to meet in person the horse and its owner as well as the Academy Award-winning director and producer of the film and one of the featured actors in the production. A party is planned for after the showing.
Allen, owner of Allen Unique Autos and a financial backer of the movie, said she and her brother are excited about bringing the opportunity to Grand Junction. “It’ll be fun.”
“50 to 1” tells the story of Mine That Bird, the upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby that went on to place second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont in the Triple Crown competition that year.
Mark Allen, Tammy’s older brother, has long bred and trained race horses at his operation in New Mexico. He joined with Leonard Blach in purchasing Mine That Bird in 2008. The horse won four of its first six starts in Canada, but was subsequently winless going into the Kentucky Derby.
At Churchill Downs, Mine That Bird came from dead last out of the first turn to take the lead in the final furlong. Mine That Bird finished with the longest margin of victory in the Kentucky Derby in more than 60 years and was the longest-odds horse to win the race in more than 85 years.
Jim Wilson, the producer who won an Academy Award for “Dances With Wolves,” served as producer, director and co-writer along with Faith Conroy on “50 to 1.”
Wilson also worked with actor Kevin Costner on such movies as “The Bodyguard,” “Wyatt Earp” and “Message in a Bottle.”
“I had been waiting for a great racehorse story for a very long time. But when I watched what unfolded at the 2009 Kentucky Derby, I was stunned. I’ve always been a fan of true underdog stories, and after meeting the owners, trainer and finally Bird himself, I was hooked,” Wilson stated in a news release. “This story had all the cinematic elements you could ask for. It’s been a real adventure, and one I am proud to share with the world.”
The movie stars Christian Kane as Mark Allen, William Devane as Leonard Blach and Skeet Ulrich as trainer Chip Woolley. Calvin Borel, the jockey who rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Kentucky Derby, portrays himself. The film also features Todd Lowe and Madelyn Deutch.
The movie was filmed in locations in New Mexico and Kentucky, including Churchill Downs.
“We shot for two weeks at Churchill Downs and were able to use the real barn and stall where Mine That Bird stayed,” Wilson said. “Chip Woolley even gave Skeet the shirt he wore at the Derby to wear in the movie.”
Tammy Allen said the movie also includes actual footage from the 2009 Kentucky Derby — which brought back her memories of the race.
The overall message, she said, is one of hope and inspiration. “It’s just like the little engine that could.”
“50 to 1” is scheduled to open June 20 at the Regal Canyon View Stadium 14 theater in Grand Junction.
The June 13 event will offer people a not only chance to see the movie a week earlier, but also meet Mine That Bird, Mark Allen, Wilson, Conroy and Lowe as well as get autographs. The gates are set to open at 6 p.m., with an outdoor showing of the movie to follow at 7:45 p.m.
A party will follow at 10 p.m. indoors at Allen Unique Auto for people age 21 and over. The event will include a musical and comedic performance by Lowe.
The outdoor venue for the showing can accommodate 1,200 to 1,500 people. The indoor venue can accommodate about 500 people.
Tammy Allen opened Allen Unique Autos in 2010 to house her eclectic collection of more than 120 rare, vintage and unique vehicles under the roof of a combination museum and events center. Allen Unique Autos also operates a limousine service.
Allen said she and her brother, who once lived in Grand Junction, are anxious to bring the movie — as well as the subject of that movie — to the Grand Valley.
An outdoor showing of “50 to 1” is set for June 13 at Allen Unique Autos, 2285 River Road in Grand Junction. Gates will open at 6 p.m. The event will include an opportunity to meet Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and its owner as well as members of the cast and crew of the movie. An indoor party after the showing for people 21 and over will feature the comedy and music of Todd Lowe, an actor in the movie. Tickets to the showing sell for $20. Tickets to the party sell for $15. Tickets to both are available for $30. For tickets or more information, call 263-7410 or visit www.allenuniqueautos.com.