Continuity mistake: In the race for the $100,000 purse (that Rosemont wins), just after Seabiscuit takes the lead, there's a closeup of Seabiscuit's head and Pollard's right leg - Pollard is wearing the brace he made later in the movie after his leg was shattered. Obviously, the shot was taken from those filmed for the Santa Anita race later in the film.
Factual error: Two men are trying to start a John Deere Model D tractor, which backfires, startling the horse. The wrong sound effect is used; it sounds like a V8 engine being turned over by an electric starter. The tractor's flywheel, on the left side, is shown stationary. Turning the flywheel by hand is the usual starting procedure for a JD tractor of '30s vintage. For over 40 years John Deere tractors used a two-cylinder engine, which make a distinctive popping exhaust sound. The movie is right on one thing, JD tractors could backfire.
Factual error: Pollard did not lose his sight in a fight, as the film suggests. He lost it when he was galloping a horse for exercise and a horse going in the opposite direction kicked up a clod of dirt that struck him at the base of skull and knocked out the cerebellum on his left lobe. (right side, left lobe).
Factual error: When Red Pollard is showing the doctor his homemade brace, his bare leg shows no sign of having been nearly severed or of undergoing multiple surgeries. There are no scars, atrophied muscles, or discoloration of any kind. In reality, Pollard's leg was permanently disfigured.
Deliberate mistake: In the final race of the film, Seabiscuit performs a flying lead change at the gallop while crossing the finish line, in the famous shot taken underneath his neck. Horses normally only switch their leads around turns while racing; it's something done to relieve pressure on the leading foot. From taking the shot over and over again, the horse playing Seabiscuit was probably tired out and a little tender and began to perform lead changes in other places in an attempt to be more comfortable.
Revealing mistake: In one scene we get a view of people standing beside a vintage automobile. A license plate is mounted on the vehicle's rear fender and we get a clear view of the back of the license plate. The plate appears to be made out of aluminum and pressed into the plate is a relief image of an antique automobile. What we are seeing is a modern license plate issued by some state for a vintage automobiles. (In Iowa a car must be at least 25 years old to qualify for such a special plate.)
Other mistake: When Marcela and Howard are viewing Seabiscuit for the first time (when he's weaving all over the place) it looks like it was done before as Seabiscuit follows a thin ribbon of disturbed ground that is weaving in and out. Its unlikely any other horse would be weaving like that.
Factual error: When Frankie Howard died he was not alone - he had two friends with him who were either thrown clear or managed to get clear after the crash. Also, it was not his father that was the first one on the scene. Frankie's friends headed off and summoned a man called Doc (I can't remember his surname) with limited medical knowledge he used for the local lumberjacks.
Other mistake: In the hospital scene where Tom Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Howard and the groom are in the waiting room, it is mentioned that the evidence of the surgery taking time is noticeable by the light changing where Mr. Smith remains in the morning. In Seabiscuit, Mr. Howard, or Jeff Bridges, waits all night long to hear the results of the surgery, not Tom Smith.
Continuity mistake: In Seabiscuit's first race under Pollard, at the start the announcer says, "Pirate Cove breaks first with Geronimo on the outside. Silver Treasure is third followed by Seabiscuit." But when it cuts to Seabiscuit, there are six horses in front of him, placing Seabiscuit seventh. Seabiscuit would have to be barely moving to lose that much ground that fast.
Factual error: During the times where Red is in the hospital, they show Red several times with a cotton blanket with a certain type of weaving they didn't use until the 1960's. In the 30's they were still using single weave blankets. Kind of hard to explain, but older nurses could tell you.
Factual error: There is a scene at Saratoga where the grandstand is viewed from the backstretch. In the 30's the grandstand was not that large. Since then, there have been several additions to the grandstand. You can plainly see the new clubhouse (the white area on the left) which was just added recently. In fact this particular view should have shown the "Wilson Mile" chute which is no longer in existence but was in the 30's.
Continuity mistake: In the movie, War Admiral is described as standing 18 hands tall, compared to Seabiscuit's 15.2 hands. Although this is not historically correct (according to contemporary sources, both horses stood around 15.2 hands) the size disparity created by the movie is not carried on in the match race, where the two horses appear to be the same size.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where everyone is waiting for Red to get out of surgery, a nurse walks by with a stethoscope around her neck. This is a mistake for a couple of reasons. Number 1, it is a modern style Littman stethoscope that wasn't used until the 1970's. The old stethoscopes of the 30's look really different than they do now. Also, back then, nurses didn't routinely carry stethoscopes like they do these days to do assessments.
Factual error: In the scene where Red is with the Mexican girl and half the screen goes dark to show that he's blind in one eye, it should actually be less than half the screen. The visual fields of the eyes overlap to allow for depth perception. You can see for yourself by putting a pencil vertically at the tip of your nose and closing one eye - if you look straight ahead you can still see things on the other side of the pencil. Red should be able to see slightly more than half of what's in front of him.
Continuity mistake: When Tick Tock McGlaughlin watches Seabiscuit being prepared for racing again he pretends to be reading a newspaper. When Charles and Tom talk to him he is holding the newspaper open with both hands, but at the end of the conversation he is suddenly holding the folded newspaper in one hand.
Factual error: The doctors tell Red he has broken his leg in 13 places, however the X-ray shown later is not indicative of an injury of that nature. The two fractures you see in the X-rays are considered non-unions (fractures that aren't healed properly and are unstable) but we should also see some type of hardware that would be needed for that many fractures. Surgeons have been using internal screws on fractures since the turn of the century.
Continuity mistake: When Charles gives Red $20 with his left hand he is holding a newspaper under his right arm. The camera angle changes that we see Charles' upper body from behind, he puts his right hand on Red's shoulder, and when we see the whole Charles again the newspaper has disappeared.
Other mistake: Red Pollard's operation for his injured leg occurs over many hours (as evidenced by the changing light and darkness on Tom Smith as he waits for the results.) Yet when the doctor appears to tell Smith that Pollard will walk again, he seems to be freshly shaven. Surely if he had just been involved in a lengthy surgical procedure, he would not have had time to shave.
Continuity mistake: When Red is telling the new jockey all about Seabiscuit's peculiarities, he tells the jockey not to use the crop on the left because a previous trainer had beaten him on that side. Earlierwhen the horse was working with that trainer, they show him being beaten on the right side.
Continuity mistake: Before the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, Charles and Mr. Riddle take their seats. They exchange a few words, then Riddle turns away to talk to his seat neighbor, but when the camera cuts to Charles we see Riddle in the background still looking at him as he did before.
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