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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Seabiscuit

Airs Monday, November 23, 2009 at 9:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: As the nation struggled to right itself in the midst of the Great Depression, Seabiscuit captured the hearts of Americans with his drive and competitive nature. His popularity grew with his 1938 head-to-head victory over triple crown winner War Admiral.

He was boxy, with stumpy legs that wouldn’t completely straighten, a short straggly tail and an ungainly gait, but though he didn’t look the part, Seabiscuit was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred racehorses in history.

In the 1930s, when Americans longed to escape the grim realities of Depression-era life, four men turned Seabiscuit into a national hero. They were his fabulously wealthy owner Charles Howard, his famously silent and stubborn trainer Tom Smith and the two hard-bitten, gifted jockeys who rode him to glory. By following the paths that brought these four together and in telling the story of Seabiscuit’s unlikely career, this film illuminates the precarious economic conditions that defined America in the 1930s and explores the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of thoroughbred racing. Scott Glenn narrates.

Watch the full program and view a photo gallery online.

Seabiscuit Preview

Seabiscuit was dung-colored and boxy, with stumpy legs that wouldn't completely straighten, a straggly tail and an ungainly gait, but though he didn't look the part, he was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred racehorses in history.