Ron Turcotte was born on July 22, 1941 in Drummond, New Brunswick, Canada. He began his association with Thoroughbred racing as a hot walker in Toronto for E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farm in 1959. He quickly rose to the level of apprentice jockey and rode the great Northern Dancer to his first victory.
Turcotte made a name for himself when he rode Tom Rolfe to victory in the 1966 Preakness Stakes. He then began working with trainer Lucien Laurin and in 1972 piloted Meadow Stable’s Riva Ridge to victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
The following year, Turcotte became internationally famous when he rode Meadow Stable’s Secretariat to the first sweep of the Triple Crown in 25 years. He became the first jockey since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902 to win back-to-back runnings of the Derby. Turcotte was North America’s leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973. He was honored with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1973.
Other major races won by Turcotte include the Canadian International Stakes (2), Kentucky Oaks, Suburban Handicap, Bernard Baruch Handicap, Tremont Stakes, Beldame Stakes, Diana Handicap (3), Hawthorne Gold Cup (2), Jockey Club Gold Cup, Withers Stakes, Alabama Stakes, Flash Stakes, Belmont Futurity (2), Champagne Stakes, Gotham Stakes (2), Laurel Futurity (2), Blue Grass Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, Florida Derby, Hopeful Stakes, Hollywood Derby, Manhattan Handicap, Sanford Stakes, Wood Memorial, Brooklyn Handicap, Man o’ War Stakes (2), Matron Stakes, Travers Stakes, Dwyer Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap and Schuylerville Stakes.
Some of Turcotte’s other top mounts included Arts and Letters, Damascus, Fort Marcy, Shuvee, Dark Mirage, Dahlia and Lady Pitt.
Turcotte’s racing career came to an end when he was paralyzed in a riding accident at Belmont Park in 1978.
Ron Turcotte was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1979.
Ron Turcotte and Secretariat (courtesy Maryland Jockey Club)