Running on the treadmill, I watched Charismatic by Steve Michaels [Al Michaels' son?!?]. When the ESPN 30 for 30 series was originally announced in early 2009, this was one of the films listed, but it never appeared. The film is now airing as part of a series of seven documentaries that ESPN Films is running this fall.
I am not a horse racing fan; it is not one of my passions. In fact, I have never been to a thoroughbred race in person. Partly as a result, I was more surprised by the arc of this story than by almost any of the ESPN documentaries I have seen.
The film is the story of the run of Charismatic and its jockey, Chris Antley, at the 1999 Triple Crown. Charismatic was viewed as fat and lazy and was actually entered into claiming races just months prior to the Triple Crown races, while Antley was considered a washed-up jockey with a myriad of problems. Going off at 30 to 1, they became the biggest long shots in 59 years to win the Kentucky Derby and then followed up with another underdog win at the Preakness.
In order to not spoil it for people who don't know the story, I am not going to say anymore. Look for it. This is definitely one of the 30 for 30 and ESPN Films documentaries worth searching out. It is one of the few documentaries in the series that I actually gifted a copy of it to Drew in iTunes after I finished watching it.
In addition to being available from Amazon, Charismatic is also available on iTunes.