Ron Turcotte will always be remembered by the horse racing fraternity as a jockey that consistently performed at his best, and was as graceful in accepting his losses, as he did his triumphs. Born as Ron Joseph Morel Turcotte on 22 July 1941 in New Brunswick, Ron grew up as the second oldest child, amongst 11 siblings. His responsibility to his family began at the age of 14, helping his father in cutting lumber. The family horse, named Bess was cared for by Ron, as her health was important to the family, as she was used to drag the cut logs out of the bush.
Ron left home at 18 to seek work as a roofer. Due to strikes, the
construction industry had come to a halt, and it was during this time,
Ron came across the Kentucky Derby that was showing on TV. His career
jockey began in same manner as many other jockeys
by cleaning stables, grooming horses and walking them. While working at
Windfields Farm, Turcotte was introduced to George Thompson, who took
under his supervision and soon had him taking on fractious horses. It
one of the horses at Windfields Farm, Northern Dancer, that Ron won his
first victory, winning the Preakness Stakes in 1965 on Tom Rolfe. It
not long before Lucien Laurin recruited Turcotte, and in 1972 Ron took
win at the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby, on the back of Riva
His success as a jockey was sealed in 1973, when the horse
secured him a consecutive win at the Kentuckey Derby. This immediately
Ron to international stardom. Secretariat went on to carry him to
the Triple Crown, by winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes
the Belmont Stakes.
His attitude towards the sport and his career, won him the George
Memorial Jockey Award, which is the highest honor to be bestowed on a
jockey. Ron Turcotte also became the very first member of the Order of
Canada, to come from the Thoroughbred Horse Racing arena.
Tragically, this amazing jockey’s career came to an end on 13 July
after a fall from his horse at the Belmont Stakes that left him
from his waist down. By the end of his career, Ron Turcotte had
seasons of racing, of which he won 3,032 races, took 2,897 second
2,559 third places. In 1979, Ron was inducted into the National Museum
Racing and Hall of Fame and would later be inducted into the New
Sports Hall of Fame. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inducted
Turcotte in 1980. Ron is an example to all jockeys in the industry, as
who loved his job, respected the horses he rode and accepted the
each race with the grace of a gentleman.