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Casting call for 'Secretariat'

Louise Moses and most of her family — a daughter, four granddaughters and a niece — drove to Lexington from Williamsburg Friday, planning to spend the day Saturday shopping and taking in the sights around town.

But shopping wasn't the main thing that took them all the way up Interstate 75.

They actually came to attend Saturday morning's open casting call for the new Disney movie Secretariat. They're hoping to be signed up as extras for the film, which will be shooting in several locations here and in Louisville over the next few weeks.

"We saw an advertisement about it, and decided to come," Moses said. "It was something fun for the girls. We've never done anything like this before."

The chance to be in a major motion picture — especially one about perhaps the most famous racehorse Kentucky has ever produced — was something the Moses family just couldn't resist.

Hundreds of other folks couldn't either. People began lining up outside the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort hotel early Saturday morning, and a line continued into the afternoon. At times, it stretched out of the building, around one corner and into the parking lot. Many drove from out of state, just for a shot at being a small part of the film.

The actual casting process was simple. Hopefuls filled out a printed form and left pictures of themselves. The casting crew will go over the applications over the next few days and notify those who are selected.

Tona Dahlquist, casting director for the Kentucky part of the Secretariat filming, said she plans to sign 1,500 to 2,000 people as paid extras. (There also was an open casting call for extras in Louisville on Thursday.)

Diane Lane will portray Secretariat owner Penny Tweedy Chenery in the film. According to Dahlquist, other cast members will include John Malkovich, as trainer Lucien Laurin; Dylan Walsh, from TV's Nip/Tuck drama about plastic surgeons; and noted actress Margo Martindale. Nelsan Ellis, from the HBO vampire feature True Blood, will play famed groom Eddie Sweat. Various horses will be selected to portray Secretariat.

Most of those waiting to get into Saturday's casting call were occasional actors, non-actors, or just average folks looking for some fun, and, possibly, something to tell their friends about.

But Laurie Shear, who got out of bed at 4:30 Saturday morning and drove down from Dayton, Ohio, wasn't fooling around. Wearing a chic dress and a swoopy hat that would have drawn envious glances around the stands on Derby Day, Shear said she has been in a few small movies and wants to do more. Getting into the Secretariat film, even as an extra, would give her budding career a boost, she said.

"I'm here for fun, but I'm serious," she said. "My goal is to get into a big film and get a little income from that. I'd be really excited to get into this one."

Blake Rose, 7, of Lexington has never been in a movie, but she sure would like to be in this one.

Bake, who went to the casting call with her mother, Tara Rose, said she's been in the Bluegrass Youth Ballet and wants to be on TV.

Eric Reid, Michael Lee, Michael Bricken and Drew D'Amato are friends and hang out together. They figured that hanging out together in a movie would be even better, so all four came to the casting call.

"We heard about it and just thought it would be fun to get in a movie," Bricken said.

Those who missed Saturday's casting call can still be in the movie.

Dahlquist, the casting director, said plenty of people will still be needed to make up the crowds for race sequences that will be filmed at Keeneland Sept. 28 and at Churchill Downs Oct. 6-7.

Anyone who wants to take part can simply show up, she said. Since the movie is set in the early 1970s, people should wear clothing from that era, she said. Bell-bottom jeans and pants would be good bets.

Dahlquist said the movie crew also will need cars from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. There's a particular need for Winnebago motor homes from that time, she said.

For more information visit www.secretariat.com.

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