In 1973, Canadian-born jockey Ron Turcotte made history in guiding Secretariat to consecutive victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes – scoring the first Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing after a 25-year gap. Five years later, Turcotte’s career came to an abrupt end when a fall from a horse during a race left him as a paraplegic.
Phil Cormeau’s documentary catches up with Turcotte in 2012, as he visits the racetracks hosting that year’s Triple Crown races and meets with the jockeys and trainers involved in the races. He also takes time to visit with Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, as well as with jockeys Jean Cruget and Steve Cauthen, who won the Triple Crown races in 1977 and 1978, respectively – to date, there has been no Triple Crown winner since Cauthen’s triumph.
Racing enthusiasts will certainly enjoy Turcotte’s many stories connected to his illustrious career, as well as some wonderful footage from his classic races. The film, strangely, has a few gaps – there is no mention of Turcotte’s post-Secretariat career up until his 1978 accident, and his wife Gaëtane stays off camera, citing a lack of comfort with public appearances. And, on occasion, Turcotte seems less than enthused with Cormeau’s presence, offering a grudgingly polite tolerance of the camera.
Nonetheless, this documentary provides a handsome tribute to one of racing’s true legends.