The Derby Stallion

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
The Derby Stallion Movie Poster Image
Horse story has positive message, some intense themes.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The strongest message is to follow your dreams and your heart, even if others think it's not right for you. There's also a strong emphasis on friendship and supporting your friends no matter what.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Houston is shown to be an alcoholic, he's a positive role model when he owns up to his problem and quits drinking. Patrick also is a good role model when he continues to stand up for Houston against the local bullies and when he goes after his dreams.


The death of a character's loved one from falling from her horse is detailed in a flashback. The actual accident isn't shown, though you do see her body afterward. A main character dies, though it's also not shown in a violent or graphic way. A town bully threatens to beat up Patrick and acts aggressively toward him and other characters.


Patrick's parents are shown kissing and being affectionate, and there's one pretty deep kiss between Jill and Patrick.


One character refers to another as a "horse's ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Houston is referred to by the other characters as an alcoholic, and he's shown drinking out of a flask. But he does own up to his problem and quits drinking. Alcohol isn't glamorized at all, and drinking is frowned upon by the rest of the characters, especially Patrick's parents, who have concerns about Patrick spending time with an adult who drinks heavily.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Derby Stallion is a family-friendly horse tale starring Zac Efron, pre-High School Musical. Although there's almost no bad language (one use of "ass") and very little sexy stuff (a couple of kisses and some light flirting), there is some frank talk about alcoholism, race, and class. There also are some references to death, including someone falling from a horse and the death of a main character, which may be too intense for young viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHeather T. September 12, 2017

Great Movie

This is a great movie I personally love it how Patrick stood up for Houston. Houston is such a great guy for teaching Patrick how to ride the horse. It also is... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Patrick McCardle (Zac Efron) doesn't want to follow his father's dream of being a pro baseball player but instead wants to follow his own dream to race horses in the Derby Cup. Houston Jones (Bill Cobbs), a horse trainer who struggles with alcoholism, sees promise in Patrick and offers to train him. While Patrick learns how to ride and falls in love with horses, he has to convince his mom (Tonja Walker) and dad (William R. Moses) that he's serious about racing, all while battling Randy (Michael Nardelli), the neighborhood bully and champion rider. But with Houston's wise training and the support of the pretty new girl, Jill (Crystal Hunt), Patrick can prove he has what it takes to be a Derby winner.

Is it any good?

It has a clichéd premise with some pretty stereotypical characters (the privileged rich kid who's a bully; the wise mentor who's a person of color; the wholesome, blond working-class hero). But The Derby Stallion does try to go a little deeper than your average horse tale. Houston's history, in particular, digs into some interesting themes about race relations, class, and why people use alcohol to cope. It's a somewhat shallow exploration but appropriate given that it's a family film.

Animal lovers may wish there were more scenes of actual horse riding (and that what is shown were more realistic), but they'll still probably enjoy watching Patrick learn to love horses. Parents will like the clean and positive messages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about alcoholism. How do you think Houston's troubled past contributed to his problem with alcohol? Why do you think some people struggle with addiction and others don't?

  • Why do you think people like Randy bully other kids? 

  • What's your favorite horse movie? Why is it your favorite?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

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