The First Saturday in May
The First Saturday in May (2008)

Filmmaking duo John and Brad Hennegan travel from Arkansas to the United Arab Emirates as they follow six trainers in preparation for the most prestigious horse race on the planet in this documentary detailing the euphoria and heartbreak of… More

Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: April 18, 2008
DVD Release Date: December 8, 2009
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Critic Score: 69% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: This touching documentary about the horses and trainers behind the Kentucky Derby leads up to the two most exciting minutes in sports.

Frank Scheck
Hollywood Reporter

The film, a behind-the-scenes look at several trainers' efforts to get their horses into fighting shape for the brief contest, lacks the depth or context to make it compelling.

Sean Howe
Entertainment Weekly

The First Saturday in May digs in its heels with acute portraits of six trainers, including a paralyzed ex-cyclist in California and an MS-stricken Lexington native who works for the royal family of Dubai.

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Michele Kenner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The filmmakers emphasize the disparate personalities of the trainers, who can taste victory with every stride of the beautiful animals with whom they work, groom and feed.

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John Hartl
Seattle Times

The movie has more heart than art, but it's unfailingly genuine.

Variety Staff

Granted sweep and stature by the triumph of the legendary Derby winner Barbaro and the big shadow cast by his tragic destiny, pic successfully elaborates on the sorts of color pieces that traditionally precede the race on television.

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William Arnold
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

It sure inspired me to make plans for Emerald Downs.

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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader

The video is dully and cheaply shot, but the Hennegans are lifelong racing fans with family ties to the sport, and their infatuation with the derby is infectious.

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Michael Esposito
Chicago Tribune

The horses' quest for the Kentucky Derby is supposed to be the big-picture idea, but there isn't a whole lot of horse footage--too much standing around in stalls waiting.

Lewis Beale
Film Journal International

It's got its share of characters, plenty of triumphs, and a Shakespearean tragedy at its core. When it comes to drama, that's a hard combination to beat.

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More reviews for The First Saturday in May

Flixster Audience Score: 85% Flixster User Reviews
Walter M.
"The First Saturday in May" is a moderately interesting documentary that follows six horses and their trainers on the path towards the Holy Grail of… More