Photo by Laura Battles.
GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 20, 2022 — Popcorn Deelites, one of several Thoroughbreds that portrayed Depression-era hero Seabiscuit in the 2003 Oscar-nominated film, has died. The cause of death was complications from colic.
The 24-year-old gelding, who had a moderate racing career in mostly claiming contests, had been retired at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, since 2005. He had been pensioned there alongside his sire, Afternoon Deelites.
“Pops”, a blood-bay Seabiscuit look-alike, appeared in numerous scenes throughout the film, including the thrilling match race against Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
He returned to racing following filming for owner David Hoffman and conditioner Pricilla Leon, who were both instrumental in retiring Popcorn to Old Friends when his career came to an end.
In all, Popcorn Deelites started 58 times and had 11 wins with career earnings of $56,880.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who portrayed legendary rider George Woolf in Seabiscuit, remembers his co-star fondly.
“Popcorn Deelites was a star in Seabiscuit,” said Stevens, who is now a racing analyst for Fox Sports. “He was my go-to guy in all the big scenes. He not only won real races multiple times, but he won the famous match race playing Seabiscuit. He was kind, fast, and a great friend that lived out his life at Old Friends in the paddock next to my other buddy, Silver Charm,” Stevens added, referring to the horse he piloted to a win in the 1997 Kentucky Derby, who is also an Old Friends retiree. “RIP, Popcorn.”
“Pops’s Hollywood history made him an enormous fan favorite, of course,” said Old Friends’s Michael Blowen. “But what really won people over was his warm personality and friendly demeanor. Fans adored him and he adored the fans. He will be sorely missed here on the farm,” Blowen added, “but I’m sure that his old pal and paddock mate, Special Ring, will miss him the most.”
For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit www.oldfriendsequine.org.