Fifty years after he ran his last race, the great stallion Secretariat is still being honoured in his home state of Kentucky.
That's the way it should be, New Brunswick's Ron Turcotte said Sunday. He rode Secretariat to the U.S. Triple Crown in 1973, the first in 25 years.
The famed thoroughbred is being honoured with a new park, Secretariat Park, and statue in Paris, Ky.
"I think it's beautiful," the 82-year-old Turcotte said Sunday from his home in Drummond, N.B.
"I think he deserves it. I know that they have a lot of statues of him, but I think he deserved it."
Statues and accolades are nothing new for Secretariat or Turcotte. A statue of them both sits in Grand Falls, not far from Turcotte's home.
Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte pose in the winner's circle after winning the 1973 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 5, 1973. (File/The Associated Press)
Turcotte said there was no set style for Secretariat, who could win just as easily leading the pack as coming up from behind.
Fifty years after his 1973 season he still holds records in all three legs of the triple crown; the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. He won the Belmont by 31 lengths.
Those standards remain even after advances in thoroughbred husbandry and generations of successors.
"He was a one-and-only," said Turcotte. "He done things other horses couldn't do."
Ron Turcotte with a statue of Secretariat before the start of the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2012 in Elmont, N.Y. (File/Getty Images)
Since Secretariat in 1973, only four other horses have won the triple crown. Turcotte remains the only Canadian-born rider to do it.
While the horse was all business on the track, he had a playful attitude off it.
"Sometimes he would grab your jacket or something like that and bring you closer to him if you're talking to another horse," said Turcotte.
"A little jealous he was. It was cute, though."
Turcotte said he wishes he was in Kentucky to pay tribute to his four-legged partner of the past, but he no longer travels very far.