Chet Kildare, a war profiteer, seeks the hand of Colonel Barkley's daughter, Nelle, though she looks with disfavor upon his undiplomatic advances. Instead, she becomes attracted to Luke Allen, a carefree mountain boy whose strength and spirit impress her. Luke, with the connivance of Uncle Mose, faithful retainer of the Barkleys, saves a baby colt owned by the colonel from being shot, intending to raise it to contend in the Kentucky Futurity. A year passes. Kildare wins the Barkley estate from the colonel in a poker game while the colonel is drunk. The next morning, Nelle finds her father dead--leaving a document in which Kildare agrees to return the estate upon payment of $100,000 within 18 months. Another year passes, and Luke's horse, Firefly, is a contender in the Futurity. Kildare, who also has an entry, tries unsuccessfully to dope Firefly. Firefly wins the race, however, and Luke wins not only the $100,000 needed to regain the estate but also Nelle's hand.
A 1915 film, also entitled Winning the Futility, produced and starring Walter Miller, bears some resemblance to this film (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20).