Bluegrass was a two-part TV movie that resurrected virtually every "racetrack" cliche known to man. Widowed Cheryl Ladd heads to Kentucky to start up a horse farm. Her wicked neighbor is Wayne Rogers who seeks Ladd's downfall. Faithful farm manager Brian Kerwin won't let Rogers stand in the way of Ladd's dream. Anthony Andrews hangs around as a Harlequin romance-style Irish rake with a Dark Secret. And what would a horse-farm movie be without Mickey Rooney? Part One of Bluegrass raised a stir upon its February 28, 1988 debut, with a brief shot of horses mating. But it was the foaling sequence in Part Two that really made the headlines. All tangled plotlines knot together in the second half of Bluegrass. Part Two, first telecast on Leap Year day in 1988, Ladd literally bets the ranch on the Kentucky Derby, while mysterious Irish stranger Anthony Andrews reveals his (gasp!) terrible secret. One of the film's highlights was the genuine birth of a foal. The poor animal looked so shaky that the network issued an official statement insisting that the newborn horse survived. When the truth came out (the foal didn't make it), the producers were heartily condemned by animal activist groups--which may be why all current films bear the closing disclaimer about no animals being injured during shooting. Bluegrass was directed by Simon Wincer, who later helmed the epic miniseries Lonesome Dove.
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