By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 05, 2002 01:00 AM

“Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire will race out of the gate atop the most famous prize-winning horse of all time, playing jockey Red Pollard in the movie adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling biography, “Seabiscuit: An American Legend.” Variety reports that Maguire, 27, will be paid in excess of $12 million for the true-life Depression-era drama, with shooting scheduled to commence this fall for a winter 2003 release. Maguire will also serve as the movie’s executive producer, says Variety. “There was an incredible toughness and sensitivity to Red that few people could capture, and Tobey is uniquely capable of doing that,” the movie’s director, Gary Ross (“Pleasantville”), told the trade paper. According to Hillenbrand’s book, which was first published in 2001, Pollard (1909-81) was a cerebral rider who came to the sport of kings after a bitter childhood in which his prosperous father lost the family business in a flood. Before riding Seabiscuit to fame and fortune, young Pollard got into horseracing after trying his luck as a prizefighter. As a rule he wasn’t that lucky in the ring, writes Hillenbrand, but he did get a nickname that stuck with him for life: “Cougar.” That should be quite a leap for Spider-Man.