Upcoming documentary to feature horse racing legend

SCOTTSBLUFF — A state amendment of its LB 840 economic development legislation that allows support for film production will soon pay off for the community.

At its Tuesday meeting, members of the Scottsbluff City Council approved the addition to its LB 840 plan. Starr Lehl, the city’s cconomic development director, said a documentary film is already in the works.

Minatare native Jody Lamp, along with partner Melody Dobson, has spent the last 10 years researching the life of John Nerud. The working title of their film is “Legacy Project 2019.”

“John Nerud became one of America’s most accomplished and revered thoroughbred horse trainers and breeders the industry has ever known,” Lamp said. “Unfortunately, his story has gone untold and virtually unknown in the area and state where we was born and raised — until now.”

A 1931 Minatare graduate, Nerud started as a jockey, eventually becoming known throughout the industry as a breeder and trainer. In the 1950s, his work in Florida was the foundation that led to one of the state’s premiere horse breeding farms. He died in New York at the age of 102.

Lamp said the film is an observation of the 100th anniversary of America’s first Triple Crown winner and a tribute to Nerud, Nebraska’s National Thoroughbred Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer.

Lamp told city council members the Nerud story was originally intended to be a section of her 2017 book “A History of Nebraska Agriculture: A Life Worth Living.”

“We held back the Nerud story because we knew the most effective communication process would be a documentary film,” she said. “It deserves to be on the big screen.”

Lehl said that when she first heard about Lamp’s documentary, Scottsbluff hadn’t included film production in its LB 840 plan. But she was excited about the film’s potential, so she encouraged Lamp and Dobson to pitch their idea to the city’s LB 840 committee.

“I’m a horse person but I’d never heard of John Nerud,” Lehl said. “He was involved in the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. It’s amazing how Nebraskans have been a big part of such a major industry.”

Lehl said although the documentary is a starting point, it could generate more interest for film production in the area, including movies, short films and commercials.

“As long as it’s a film production company that’s applying, we’ll be able to give them some financial assistance,” Lehl said. “Plus, the funds have to be spent in the local area.”

Lamp is planning a news conference on Thursday, March 15, at 10 a.m. at the Historic Midwest Theater to announce the film’s official title and screen the trailer. The film will premiere at the Midwest later in 2019.

Jody Lamp