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Down the Stretch

(1936 b 66')

En: 5 Ed: 5

The son of a jockey who was banned for cheating helps the woman who believes in him by riding her unruly horse to victories until he too is framed.

At night court Snappy Sinclair (Mickey Rooney) is going to be sent to the reformatory for a year for being in the freight yard to find food and shelter; but Patricia Barrington (Patricia Ellis) gets custody of him and hires him to work at Twin Orchards with horses, because his father helped make those stables a success. Snappy says his father taught him to ride before he died. Snappy is not allowed to ride and gets into a fight over his father. Stable boy Noah (Willie Best) tells Snappy that the wild Faithful won't break; but Snappy tames him. Tex Reardon (Charles C. Wilson) says both Faithful and Snappy are no good, because their sires were no good. Snappy tells Patricia and Reardon that he could make Faithful break; but Reardon plans to sell him. Snappy rides Faithful at night and gets fired. Snappy tells Patricia that Faithful is a great horse, and she gives him another chance and lets him ride Faithful. Faithful rides against Blue Boy, who injures his ankle. Patricia runs Faithful in the derby with Snappy as jockey, using the name Fred St. Clair. Faithful is too wild and has to start on the outside, but he wins. St. Clair wins several races.

Snappy goes to a gambling party, and Nick (Robert Emmett Keane) gives him chips. Snappy signs a tab, as Nick and Roach ask him to ride Ebony; but he is riding Blue Boy. A gambler gives Noah twenty $100 tickets for Ebony to win and the I. O. U. Officials question Noah and stop Snappy from riding, suspending him for a year. Snappy learns that Sir Oliver wants him to ride in England. He tells Patricia he was framed and says he'd do anything for her. Snappy does well in England, and Oliver loans him to the Maharajah to ride Lancer. Noah tells Snappy that Patricia needs Faithful to win in order to save Twin Orchards. Snappy goes to Cliff Barrington (Dennis Moore), offering to ride Faithful; but when Patricia wishes him luck, he learns she was not told. Snappy tells Faithful's jockey how to handle him. Down the stretch Snappy makes Lancer fall so that Faithful can win. He is banned and recovers in the hospital. Patricia visits and asks why he fouled. Snappy says he paid a debt, and she invites him to work at Twin Orchards.

Some may be disappointed this racing story does not have the usual happy ending; but this ambiguous result is more realistic. Snappy has to overcome so much prejudice because of his father's reputation that he is extremely grateful to Patricia for giving him the chance he needed. Knowing he did nothing wrong in America, he sacrifices himself in England for her sake.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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