Seabiscuit - Portal - North Arkansas College

by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit was an unlikely champion. For two years he floundered at the lowest level of racing, before his dormant talent was
discovered by three men. One was Tom Smith, an arthritic old mustang breaker. The second was Red Pollard, a half-blind jockey. The
third was Charles Howard, a former bicycle repairman who made a fortune by introducing the automobile to the American West. Bought
for a bargain-basement price by Howard and rehabilitated by Smith and Pollard, Seabiscuit overcame a phenomenal run of bad fortune
to become one of the most spectacular, charismatic performers in the history of sports.
1. Seabiscuit grew so popular as a cultural icon that in 1938, he commanded more space in American newspapers than
any other public figure. Considering the temper of the times as well as the horse's early career on the racetrack, what
were the sources of The Biscuit's enormous popularity during that benchmark period of U.S. history? Would he be as
popular if he raced today? What did the public need that it found in this horse?
2. The Great Match Race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938 evoked heated partisan passions. These
passions spilled over on radio and into the daily prints, with each colt leading a raucous legion of followers to the
barrier at Pimlico Race Course that autumn day. What were the differences separating these two horses, and what
did each competitor represent in the American experience that set one apart from the other?
3. All jockeys in the 1930s endured terrible hardships and hazards, starving themselves to make weight, and then
competing in an exceptionally dangerous sport. For George Woolf and Red Pollard, there were additional factors that
compounded the difficulties and dangers of their jobs--diabetes for the former and half-blindness for the latter. Why,
in spite of this, did they go on with their careers? What were the allures of race riding that led them to subject
themselves to such risk and torment?
4. What was the role of the press and radio in the Seabiscuit phenomenon? How did Howard use the media to his
advantage? How did the media help Seabiscuit's career, and how was it a hindrance?
5. Seabiscuit possessed all the qualities for which the Thoroughbred has been prized since the English imported the breed's three
foundation sires from the Middle East three hundred years ago. What were those qualities? What made this horse a winner?
6. Horses of Seabiscuit's stature, from Man o' War in the 1920s to Cigar in the 1990s, have always generated a powerful gravitational
field of their own, attracting crowds of people into their immediate orbit, shaping relationships among them, and even affecting the
personalities of those nearest them. How did Seabiscuit shape and influence the lives of those around him?
7. Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard formed an unlikely partnership. In what ways were these men different? How did
their differences serve as an asset to them?
8. What critical attribute did Howard, Smith, and Pollard share? How did this shared attribute serve as a key to their success?
9. In what ways was each man in the Seabiscuit partnership similar, in his own way, to Seabiscuit himself?
How did these similarities help them cultivate the horse's talents and cure his ailments and neuroses?
10. What lessons can be drawn from the successes of the Seabiscuit team? What does their story say about the role of character in life?
Our class has become a respected committee of North Arkansas College book purchase
advisors. You have a book to read, review and recommend (or not) for purchase. Your
responsibility should not be taken lightly; NAC is careful with every penny it spends, yet wants
the best for its students. You are yourself, but you are to imagine you are presenting to the book
selection committee headed by Dr. Laura Berry. The grading guidelines explain the required
components of your three to seven minute presentation. You may order your information in any
sequence that seems logical.
You must present a discussion of your book’s:
vital statistics (title, author, copyright, publisher) along with
an overview of its contents which demonstrate your careful
reading of the entire book. For a nonfiction book, you will tell
what kinds of information are presented, as well as the
organization and emphasis of that information. For a fiction
book, give a plot summary which highlights conflict,
resolution, main characters and point of view.
readability. Here talk about things like reading and interest
level ease of use, special features, logic of organization, etc,
relevance. How does the information presented relate to
your research? What information was useful -- how, and to
what degree? How much did it matter to your overall effort
that you read this book and why?
desirability for purchase. Why or why shouldn't we spend
limited funds on this book?
You will:
demonstrate thorough, thoughtful reading of a useful source
make idea connections in your research
(sort of) practice tailoring a presentation to an adult audience
practice speaking skills
practice creating and delivering a deliberate conclusion besides, "I'm done; what
are you staring at?"
 exercise creativity
Complete the following statements.
Seabiscuit was sold for
Seabiscuit needs to learn
Look! Comparing these two horses is ridiculous. War Admiral
Red lost the race because he was
Seabiscuit is the best horse
, War Admiral is the best horse
Everybody thinks we found this broken down horse and fixed him. We didn’t.
Short Answer
7. What did the horseshoes represent?___
8. What was the name of the horse who was Seabiscuit’s real competitior?__
9. What is the main idea of the film?_Letting people help you, friendships change
you and make you a better person
10. What is the name of the man who invented the first car?
11. What is the name of the time period when Americans went through an
economic crisis- 1930-1940?
Match the definition with the correct vocabulary word
14.___To appreciate something
15.___ Obstinate
16.___ Underdog
17.___ to put an animal “down”
18.___ Rags to riches
18.___ to “foul” someone
20.___ shattered
a. difficult and impossible to manage,
not able to be trained or changed
b. one at a disadvantage and expected
to lose
c. end an animal’s life because of an
illness or injury
d. stubborn
e. an act that violates the rules of a
f. to be grateful for, recognize with
g. a person who races horses
h. any situation in which a person rises
from poverty to wealth, or sometimes
from obscurity to fame
i. ruined or disrupted; "our shattered
dreams of peace and prosperity
Finish the phrase:
22. Everybody loses a couple but he can choose either to go home or __
23. “Future is a _ __”.
Men who were broken only a year before suddenly felt ___.
Sometimes when the little guy, when he doesn’t know he’s a little guy, he can do ____.
Sometimes all somebody needs is a ____.
You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s been __
Put the letter of the character beside the description that fits him:
A. Johnny “Red”
Pollard (Jockey)
B. “Tom Smith”
C. “Charles Howard”
D. “Seabiscuit” (Horse)
Talks about the future
“A crackpot”
Special Gift: riding horses
Angry because his family
left him.
Son died, wife divorced
. Picked Seabiscuit because
of his spirit
Injured his leg
Kicked a goat over a
Rich and sophisticated
Injured his leg
Special Gift: horse training
Met his wife in Mexico
Enjoys carving wood
. Enjoys being away from
the city
Plays with a small toy with
Too dumb to know the
Was going to quit working
with Seabiscuit
Must compete to win
Blind in one eye
Beat up when he was
Too small
Made a mistake that made
him lose a race
Was trained to lose
Too old
A boxer
Knows how to heal horses
A favorite with the
common people
Enjoys reading
Special Gift: Eating
Special Gift: Selling
Too big