Grand Falls, N.B.
Ron Turcotte aboard Secretariat at Winner’s Post-Parade at Preakness in 1973
Ron Turcotte, OC, began his career in Toronto with E. P. Taylor‘s Windfields Farm in 1959, and he was soon wearing the silks and winning races. As an apprentice jockey he rode Northern Dancer to his first victory and gained gained prominence with his victory aboard Tom Rolfe in the 1965 Preakness Stakes.
Turcotte began working with Canadian trainer Lucien Laurin at the racetrack in Laurel, Maryland; and in 1972 he rode Riva Ridge to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Ron became internationally famous in 1973 when he rode Secretariat to win the first Triple Crown in 25 years. He was North America’s leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973.
He became the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys since 1902 and is the only jockey to ever have won five of the six consecutive Triple Crown races. Turcotte’s career ended in 1978 following a fall from his horse, Flag of Leyte Gulf, at the start of a race at Belmont Park that left him a para paraplegic.
In 1984 he became the first ever recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award given annually to the jockey who has made significant contributions to the sport. He was also voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award that honours a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing.
He is the first person from thoroughbred racing ever to be appointed a member of the Order of Canada.
Turcotte lives in his home town of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife Gaëtane and their four daughters. He is an advocate for the disabled and helps to raise funds for disability programs, and is intimately involved with the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF). A well-known survivor of an on-track accident, Turcotte makes appearances at racetracks to raise funds and awareness of the assistance the PDJF provides to fellow injured riders.
Ron Turcotte was hospitalized on March 9, 2015 following a single-vehicle accident in New Brunswick. The van he was driving flipped after hitting a snow bank with he and a friend both injured in the accident; with Turcotte sustaining fractures to both legs. He had hoped to speak on behalf disabled jockeys this coming May in Lousiville, KY and attend the Induction ceremony for the Maritime Sports Hall of Fame in June. We hope for a speedy recovery and attendance at those events will be possible.
In the 2010 Disney movie Secretariat, Ron Turcotte’s role as Secretariat‘s jockey is played by Otto Thorwarth, a real life jockey himself. A National Film Board of Canada documentary feature film on Ron Turcotte’s life and career, Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte, had its world premiere in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2013. There is also a book about his life by Bill Heller, The Will to Win: Ron Turcotte’s Ride to Glory (1992), Fifth House Publishers ISBN 9781895618082
He was voted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1974; inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1979. He was also inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame the following year in 1980.