Statue of New Brunswick jockey on Triple Crown winner to be unveiled in Kentucky

A new bronze statue of famed racehorse Secretariat and his New Brunswick jockey will be unveiled in Kentucky on Saturday. 

"It's sort of like bringing a new family member into the house," said Jocelyn Russell, the creator of the larger-than-life sculpture.

"It's like I just had a 3,800-pound newborn."

Russell was commissioned by the city of Lexington to create the bronze sculpture which depicts championed horse Secretariat and his jockey Ron Turcotte, who is from Grand Falls.

The pair won the Triple Crown in 1973 — the first time in 25 years a horse won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. 

Jocelyn Russell - Secretariat Monument 2019/Facebook

Turcotte has multiple statues dedicated to him and Secretariat, including one in his hometown.

Russell met with Turcotte twice to learn how she should sculpt the statue.

"I wanted to meet the man that sat on that horse," she said. "When I find out about a piece, everything that I can touch, you know, touch, hear, feel, all goes into me and then comes out through my hands."

The statue is 6.5 metres long from hoof to outstretched hoof and stands more than three metres tall. Russell made sure to get every detail right — including the blue-checkered pattern on Turcotte's jockey outfit and Secretariat's blue mask.

Jocelyn Russell - Secretariat Monument 2019/Facebook

She even asked to see how Turcotte held Secretariat's reins while racing.

"I took the strap off of my purse and handed it to him and I said, 'Tell me how you held the reins,' and then I got photos of his hands all the way around," she said.

Russell designed the monument for Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, but since she lives in Oklahoma, she decided to drive the 1,450 kilometres to personally deliver the statue.

"He's going to be about 13 feet tall, so we're just going to slide under the overpasses and we're transporting him open and upright as though he was going down the track," she said. 

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"So we literally are going to have Secretariat on our heels for about 900 miles." 

Turcotte can't attend the unveiling in Kentucky but his brother Gaetan Turcotte will be there. In a social media post, the former jockey commented on the artist's work. 

"I believe it is a worthy testament to Secretariat's greatness," he said in the post. "I have enjoyed working with her and appreciate her meticulous attention to every detail.

"I'm also very gratified and humbled that the statue is of both of us together. I know I would never have been able to win the Triple Crown without Secretariat. I look forward to seeing the monument during my next visit to Kentucky."

The monument will be unveiled at the Keeneland Race Course during the Secretariat Festival on Oct. 12.