RACETRACK is about the Belmont Race Track, one of the world's leading race tracks for thoroughbred racing. The film highlights the training, maintaining and racing of thoroughbred horses. Everyday occurrences are shown: in the backstretch the grooming, feeding, shoeing, and caring for horses and the preparation for races; at the practice track the various aspects of training, exercising, and timing the horses; at the paddock the pre-race presentation of the horses; and in the grandstand betting and watching the races. The film also has sequences showing the variety of work done by trainers, jockeys, jockey agents, grooms, hot walkers, stable hands, and veterinarians.
Beginning with the birth of a thoroughbred and running through to the conclusion of the 1981 Belmont Stakes in which Summing upset heavily-favored Pleasant Colony, RACETRACK makes all other movies about horse races, including the few cute ones look like a ride on a cute little merry-go-round.
–Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune
Wiseman wanders around Belmont finding ripe, illustrative material, most of which fits into the abiding themes of his films, the melancholia peculiar to industrial societies, the emotional wages of materialism. Horse racing is a small industry comparatively, but it serves as a rich microcosm… It’s a super super film, from a super super filmmaker
–Tom Shales, The Washington Post
The film is not about winning or losing; the show is about an institution, an industry, and its rituals. In RACETRACK, the industry Wiseman reveals is a peculiar one, pervaded by both a romantic respect for the magnificent animals at its center and an almost corporate atmosphere.
–Cathleen Schine, Vogue