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Beautiful 'Dreamer' Showcases the Bluegrass

FRANKFORT, Ky., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- If W.C. Fields was correct when he cautioned that actors should never work with children or animals, then Kurt Russell should have been doubly nervous when he signed on to make "Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story" with precocious 11-year-old actress Dakota Fanning, who played his daughter, and Sacrifice, who played Sonador, the miracle filly.

But whatever Fields may have thought, the combination of Russell, Fanning and the filly have made "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story" the hit of the fall. Filmed partly in Kentucky (in Lexington and Versailles), the film is to this year's box office what "Seabiscuit" was in 2003, according to the Kentucky Department of Tourism. It seems no one can resist the tale of a horse, given up for dead, who rallies and reaches the finish line ahead of the rest of the field.

The movie is loosely based on the true story of a 2-year-old filly, Mariah's Storm, who broke a bone in one of her legs while running in a major stakes race at Lexington's Keeneland Race Track in 1993. After being nursed back to health by her trainer, Mariah's Storm returned to win 4 stakes races as a 3-year-old and run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff as a 4-year-old.

While Russell and co-star Kris Kristofferson are charismatic, Fanning is the cutest child star since Shirley Temple and the horse is appropriately winning, Kentuckians can take pride in how well their state fared in its second big starring role of the season.

Following in the wake of "Elizabethtown," "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story" introduces the rest of the country to the beauty of the Bluegrass. The camera lovingly pans across acres of horse farms where prize thoroughbreds frolic, and lingers on Keeneland during the film's dramatic Breeders' Cup race.

Keeneland President Nick Nicholson, as he did for "Seabiscuit" two years ago, allowed the track to be used for "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story."

"It's very special to go to a movie and see your office and the grounds you walk on every day," says Nicholson. "It reminded me of how fortunate I am to be in the thoroughbred business."

His comments were echoed by others who attended the movie's premiere October 18th at Lexington's historic Kentucky Theater.

"While I'm always delighted to see Central Kentucky portrayed in such a positive light, I was especially pleased that the movie showed the affinity between young people -- particularly young women -- and horses," says Myra Ball who, along with her husband Don, owns Donamire Farm in Lexington, one of the film's location sites.

Having her home show up on movie screens is a situation Ball is getting accustomed to. "This is the third movie that has filmed here at Donamire," she says.

Perhaps it was the film's director John Gatins who best summed up the Commonwealth's appeal. "The studio execs in Hollywood kept telling me they got the feeling Kentucky was supposed to be a character in the film," says Gatins.

"I told them -- not just a character. It is the film."


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