Sporting Blood was inspired by a true-life story wherein Arnold Rothstein, the gambler racketeer infamous for the 1919 Black Sox Scandal (see Eight Men Out), entered his horse Sporting Blood in the 1921 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Sporting Blood was initially the second favorite at 5-2 behind the filly Prudery, the 1-4 favorite. Then legendary trainer Sam Hildreth entered his best runner Grey Lag, who became the immediate favorite with Prudery the second favorite and Sporting Blood the third favorite at 3-1. Thirty minutes before the race Hildreth scratched Grey Lag with no explanation. The favorite money then switched to Prudery while Sporting Blood remained at 3-1. Sure enough, Sporting Blood won and Rothstein collected $500,000 in both prize money and, mostly, from the $150,000 he'd bet here and there. It seems that Rothstein had heard just before the race that Prudery was having "female problems." Both Rothstein and Hildreth were accused of colluding but nothing could be proved. In any event, Rothstein soon sold his horses and never owned another horse again. He was later shot dead in 1928 over a crooked poker game in which he'd lost $320,000 but refused to pay.

At Churchill Downs, the announcer credits Vice President Charles Curtis, who is clearly visible.

Racing scenes at Churchill Downs (the Kentucky Derby) and at Latonia were taken from archive footage.