Hollywood comes to Churchill Downs

By Chris McGill - bio | email

LOUSIVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hollywood is coming to Louisville. Crews from Walt Disney Studios were working Friday to transform Churchill Downs back to its 1970s era look, with filming set to start Oct. 5. on its upcoming movie, "Secretariat," which chronicles the life of the legendary racehorse.

The paddock area has been transformed from its modern look to make the track appear as it did in 1973. New metal benches were removed and replaced with older looking wooden benches. Crews also started installing additional lighting in the paddock and grandstand areas to help light the actors when shooting begins.

The most dramatic change that would be noticeable to anyone visiting Churchill Downs is the dates between the twin spires that signifies the year as 1973.

"The folks from Walt Disney have been great to work with and we're excited to have them here," said Darren Rogers, Senior Director of Communications for Churchill. "It's going to be business as usual next week except there's going to be major motion picture stars here!"

On Friday extras poured into the Matt Winn Dining Room to get their wardrobe fittings and assignments. Jessica Morgen of Louisville almost missed her chance to be in the new film.

"Actually, I didn't even know about this until the night before," Morgen said. "My mom in Florida called me and told me about it so I said well why not, I'm a big Secretariat fan!"

She thinks she'll be part of the grandstand audience as they re-create Secretariat's legendary 1973 Kentucky Derby win.

Disney still needs extras to fill the grandstand areas. If you're interested, just show up at Churchill Downs by 8 a.m. on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 wearing 70s apparel. Enter through Gate 10 or Gate 12, which is off Queen Avenue, and follow the signs.

Production crews will begin shooting Oct. 5, with plans to finish by the end of the week. The release date for the movie has not yet been announced.

"Secretariat" stars Diane Lane as Penny Chenery and John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin.

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