Director joins Mike Rich-scripted Disney film

Randall Wallace is saddling up at Disney to direct “Secretariat,” the Mike Rich-scripted film about the 1973 Triple Crown-winning racehorse and its owner, Penny Chenery.

Last year, Disney acquired the rights to Chenery’s life story. The film is being produced by Mayhem Pictures partners Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray (Daily Variety, May 8, 2007).

Chenery was a mother and housewife who knew little about horses when she was pressed to take over her ailing father’s horse farm in Virginia. Though Secretariat came along and began to take shape as a potential champion, Chenery was pressured to sell the farm after her father died and she was hit with a multimillion-dollar inheritance tax.

She saved both the farm and the horse, and watched as Secretariat became the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown in 25 years, taking the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in dominating fashion. Chenery became known as the “first lady of racing.”

The studio’s hope is to get the picture to the starting gate early next year.

The “Braveheart” scribe last directed “We Were Soldiers” in 2002.

Wallace is repped by WMA.

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