(There are Spoilers) Even though the movie "Thoroghbreds Don't Cry" is the first of many films pairing Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland as the most popular and admired teenagers on the silver screen in the late 1930's and 40's. The film instead comes across as being an early buddy-buddy like film about two at first combative then best of friends teenage boys horse-racing jockey Timmie Donovan, Mickey Rooney, and British blue-blood and all around nice kid Roger Calverton, Ronald Sinclair. Judy Garland is more or less overlooked by the two boys and almost everyone else in the cast in the small role as the sweet singing and piano playing Cricket West.
The movie itself is a somewhat run of the mill story about a brash young man jockey Timmie Donovan who after he gets into a fight with the very proper and refined Roger Calverton, over his table manors, soon get's to become Rogers best friend. Timmie agrees to ride Roger's prized racehorse The Pookah in the biggest and richest race in California the California Cup. With young Roger's grandfather Sir. Peter Calverton, C. Aubrey Smith, and co-owner of The Pookah going along it's decided by Timmie that the horse needs a tune-up race before the Cup. It's than decided to run him in Ridgemore Handicap which The Pookah is expected to be an odds-on favorite.
With both Timmie and The Pookah razor sharp for the Ridgemore the young jockey is summoned to his fathers Click, Charles D. Brown, bedside where he's told by the old man that he's dying from a very serious heart condition. Click gives the concerned Timmie this whole line of horse-sh*t about needing something like $5,000.00 so that he can have an iron-lung that would save his life. Click as well as his doctor "Doc" Godfrey, Henry Koker, tell Timmie that the only way he can get that kind of money is if he'll throw the race that he's to ride The Pookah in.
Timmie who's as honest as the day, that's June 22 the beginning of summer, is long at first refuses to give into his dad's desperate plea but being the tender on the inside and tough on the outside guy that he is finally agrees to throw the race just to save his poor and sick father's life. It turns out that there's nothing at all wrong with the old man but that he and his gang of crooked gamblers, including "Doc", are planning to bet heavily against The Pookah and make a killing at the expense of Timmie's career as a professional horse-racing jockey.
Not letting The Pookah, who has a terrific closing kick, run in the Ridgemore Timmie loses the race and just after the horse crosses the finish-line finishing out of the money Old Man Calverton,shocked by the Pookah's loss, collapses in his private box of a heart-attack. At the hospital Timmie is told by the head nurse that the old guy didn't make it. Timmie get's so depressed over what he did that he becomes a homeless hobo sleeping on a bench in the park and asking for handouts so he can get himself a bite to eat.
The ending is a bit unpredictable since you would think that Timmie in an effort to vindicate himself would ride The Pookah to victory in the California Cup. Instead Timmie is drummed out of his profession as a jockey by admitting to the race track official's, after his lousy and two-timing dad tipped them off, that he threw the previous race that he rode The Pookah in. Timmie in a round about way still does the right thing by getting, or stealing, the $1,000.00 entrance fee from his cheating dad to have The Pookah run in the big race. Since his friend Roger was not only broke but about to sell the horse to non-other then "Doc" who together with Timmie's sleazy father were planning to run the horse into the ground. Making as much money that they can off him until they finally, when The Pookah is an old and broken down nag, sell him to the glue factory.
With him being suspended and not able to ride The Pookah Timmie has Roger take the mount and with him giving his friend instructions on what to do in the race, while hiding in a tree overlooking the race-track, Rogers and The Pookah end up winning it in a heart stopping stretch run ending to the movie. 15 year-old Judy Garland who even though had a secondary role in the movie did receive top billing together with stars Mickey Rooney and Ronald Siclair and also sang the movie's title song "Gotta A Pair of New Shoes".