May 24, 2010–After experiencing the biggest emotional highs that the sport of horseracing can deliver when he rode Secretariat to racing immortality in 1973, jockey Ron Turcotte’s journey to stardom tragically ended five years later when a spill at Belmont left him paralyzed from the waist down.
The next edition of HRTV’s (R) “Inside Information” newsmagazine show, scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, will take a look at Turcotte’s remarkably unwavering resilience at living life and not looking back, as well as his bond with the great Secretariat, in the show called: “31 Lengths: The Lives of Secretariat, Ron Turcotte.”
“Inside Information” will present a rare in-depth interview with Turcotte from his home in Grand Falls in New Brunswick, where he discusses his amazing journey into the saddle, his struggle to succeed, his overwhelming success, the unthinkable, abrupt end to his riding career and how he has overcome that adversity for the last 32 years.
One of 14 children, Turcotte won his first race in 1962, and his career quickly ascended. He earned his first Triple Crown win in 1965 aboard Tom Rolfe in the Preakness, but the best was yet to come. He teamed up with fellow Canadian, trainer Lucien Laurin, and owner Penny Tweedy (Chenery), to reach heights that few have attained — in a two-year span. In 1972, he won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes aboard Riva Ridge, and a year later, guided the incomparable Secretariat to the Triple Crown, in a tour de force that may never be equaled.
On July 13, 1978, Turcotte’s racing career tragically ended when he was paralyzed from the waist down in a frightening spill at Belmont Park. Though confined to a wheelchair, Turcotte has championed great causes — including the March of Dimes and Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund.
“I just face the fact. I’m in a wheelchair,” Turcotte told HRTV’s Vice President of Post Production Phil Kubel. “I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow…I don’t have (any) regrets with anything I’ve done.”
While his career was short, his impact was profound. He was honored with the Order of Canada in 1974 and inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1979 — the same year he was bestowed the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
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