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Pride of Maryland

Pride of Maryland(1951)

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At the turn of the twentieth century, horsetrainer Frankie Longworth loses the last of his money when his friend Knuckles is defeated in a boxing match held in a racetrack stable. Secretly watching is a young boy named Stevie, who befriends the men when they discover his hiding place. To Frankie's surprise, Stevie turns out to be the son of his former sweetheart Christine. Though sorry to learn that Christine is married, Frankie, who has raced a little and aspires to do more, admits his admiration for her husband, the successful jockey, Steve Loomis. As Christine and Frankie are becoming reacquainted, Christine's father, Walter Shannon, shows up. Although Shannon had contrived to separate them years ago and orders Frankie to stay away from his happily-wedded daughter, the affable Steve is unthreatened by Frankie's presence. After Frankie assists in the birthing of Steve's foal, which they name Pride of Maryland, and saves the life of the mare, he arranges with his backer, Col. Harding, to hire Frankie as a horse trainer. Steve is also interested in Frankie's idea of a new "crouch" riding style that would increase the horse's speed by cutting down wind resistance and taking the stress off the horse's spine. Against the wishes of his family and the colonel, Steve tries the technique, but because of a previous knee injury, falls from the horse and is killed. When hiring a jockey for the next race, the colonel passes Frankie by, because he has little actual racing experience. However, just before starting time, the new jockey is discovered missing, having been tied up by Knuckles, without Frankie's knowledge. Knuckles convinces the colonel to give Frankie the opportunity to race, but the colonel, still unwilling to experiment, orders Frankie to ride in the traditional style. During the race, Frankie disobeys and switches to his crouch style, and the horse speeds up and wins. Frankie and Knuckle's rejoicing is short-lived, for when the missing jockey turns up and exposes Knuckes, Frankie is fired. Almost immediately Frankie is approached by Sir Thomas Asbury, who is impressed with Frankie's ideas and would like to develop the new riding style in the United States before taking him to race in England. Winning races for Sir Thomas, Frankie becomes well-known in racing circles and would be wealthy, but he is sending his money to Shannon to help raise and train Pride of Maryland. When Shannon writes him for more money, Frankie tries to raise it by betting on himself, which is against the rules of the racing association. Frankie wins the race, but to avoid paying him, the bookmaker reports him, and Frankie is barred from further racing. Knuckles and Frankie pawn everything of value they own to return to the U.S., where they find Christine's family evicted by the colonel for nonpayment of rent and fees. Secretly, Frankie negotiates with the colonel to let Christine's family stay in exchange for his services as a horse trainer. The colonel, who regrets firing Frankie, agrees on one added condition: that if his license to race should be reinstated, he would ride the colonel's colors. Frankie agrees and the training begins, and soon, encouraged by Stevie, Frankie and Christine are discussing marriage. As a surprise to Frankie, Christine convinces the racing association to reinstate Frankie so that he can ride Pride of Maryland in its first race and win back the family's fortune. Frankie, however, turns down the opportunity in order to honor his contract with the colonel, who will not release him from the agreement. Presuming that Frankie will make more money riding for the colonel, Christine is angry that he has rejected her offer, until Shannon, who understands the professional dilemma Frankie faces, finally explains to her how the jockey has been supporting them for several years. To make the best of the situation, Shannon shrewdly bets on Frankie's horse instead of his own. Before the race, the colonel, who fears Frankie might try to throw the race, gently threatens a second, permanent disbarment from the association, if Frankie loses. Despite conflicting emotions, Frankie uses his crouch style and wins the race. The colonel proudly has his photograph taken in front of the winning horse, and Frankie and Christine kiss and make up.