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Frank Hopkins (1865 – 1951) was an American professional horseman who at one time performed with the Ringling Brothers Circus. He was known as a legendary distance rider, claimed to have won 400 races, and was recognized by his contemporaries as supporting the preservation of the mustang.
Hopkins claims to have been a cowboy and professional horseman in the American West, where he gained a reputation for distance riding. In his autobiographical memoir (unpublished in his lifetime) and accounts to friends, he claimed to have been featured as one of the "Rough Riders of the World" in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which toured in Europe as well as the United States.
A number of his stories have been disputed by many historians. Examples include:
In 1926 Hopkins was foreman of a construction crew, digging a subway tunnel in downtown Philadelphia, PA.
In the 1940s, the elderly Hopkins was honored with a position as trail judge for the annual Green Mountain Horse Club's 100-mile endurance ride. Up to the time of his death in 1951, he remained an outspoken champion of the threatened mustang which he called "the most significant animal on the North American continent."
Frank Hopkins is interred in Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens County, New York City.
Hopkins' life and the story of the race were the inspiration for the 2004 film Hidalgo, written by John Fusco, directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Viggo Mortensen. The Disney Corporation marketed the film as "based on a true story" although subsequent investigations failed to find any evidence of such a race.