By Mint Julep

1972 Kentucky Derby Winner Riva Ridge

1972 kentucky derby winner riva ridge

Join us on an exciting journey as we dive into the thrilling racing career of Riva Ridge, the victorious 1972 Kentucky Derby champion. Learn all about the incredible teamwork between trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte that led Riva Ridge to triumph at renowned races like the Belmont Stakes. Discover how Riva Ridge’s unique mix of shyness and competitive drive shaped his personality on the track, earning him praise and prestigious Eclipse Awards for his outstanding performances. Delve into his lasting impact on American Thoroughbred history and Canadian racing scene, cementing his status as a true legend in horse racing.

Early Life and Family Background

Riva Ridge was born at the famous Meadow Stable in Doswell, Virginia. His name, “Riva Ridge,” was chosen by Penny Chenery and John Tweedy as a tribute to their favorite ski trail in Vail, Colorado. This name would soon become well-known in racing history for its success.

Under the guidance of skilled trainers and with a lot of love for horse racing, Riva Ridge quickly made a name for himself on the racetrack. Every time he ran, his story of determination and ambition played out before cheering crowds.

Riva Ridge’s competitive spirit shone brightly alongside his gentle nature that made him beloved by everyone who saw him race. He had a unique blend of bravery hidden beneath his strong willpower that set him apart from other horses. It seemed like destiny itself whispered secrets into his ears before each race.

When jockey and steed moved together like dancers on the track, magic unfolded under clear skies or stormy weather across America. Their partnership led to victories at top events and left an unforgettable legacy in Canadian horse racing history for future generations to admire anew.

Racing Career

Riva Ridge had a remarkable racing career, shining brightly with victories at the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Jockey Ron Turcotte expertly guided this modest chestnut colt to triumph, defying expectations and winning over fans on the racetrack. Despite being shy off-track, Riva Ridge transformed into a fierce competitor as soon as the race began, showing a unique mix of humility and fiery determination that made him stand out from his competitors.

Under Lucien Laurin’s skilled training, Riva Ridge became one of Canada’s most celebrated racehorses. With Laurin’s careful guidance, Riva Ridge blossomed into a champion capable of winning prestigious races with grace and power. The partnership between trainer and horse was truly magical; their bond led to victories that would be remembered for years to come.

The teamwork between jockey Ron Turcotte and Riva Ridge was like a well-coordinated dance – every move perfectly in sync toward victory. Turcotte’s skillful riding combined with Riva Ridge’s natural talent created an unstoppable duo that left spectators amazed time after time. Their collaboration showcased precision and harmony on the track, demonstrating what true dedication could achieve in Thoroughbred racing.

Beyond individual achievements, Riva Ridge also won two Eclipse Awards during his impressive career for outstanding performances in American races. His impact reached far beyond Canadian tracks, leaving a lasting impression on international circuits while inspiring equestrians worldwide.Their connection went beyond competition; it represented a strong bond built through hard work,determination,and unwavering trust—a testament to how talent paired with dedication can lead both parties towards greatness.

The Pros & Cons of Legendary Derby Moments


  1. Preserves exciting moments in horse racing history

  2. Motivates upcoming jockeys and trainers

  3. Displays the grace and strength of thoroughbred horses

  4. Entertains viewers with exciting shows of athleticism

  5. Makes unforgettable memories for fans and participants

  6. Showcases the talent and hard work needed to excel in the sport


  1. Might steal the spotlight from other major achievements in horse racing history

  2. Could create unrealistic expectations for upcoming Derby races

  3. May result in excessive commercialization of the sport

  4. The pressure to recreate past successes might distract from current events

  5. Risk of glorifying the past instead of addressing present issues in horse racing industry

  6. Possibility of controversies or scandals damaging the legacy of iconic Derby moments

Impact on Meadow Stable

Riva Ridge didn’t just win races – he saved Meadow Stable from financial ruin in 1971. When the stable was struggling, Riva Ridge’s impressive performances on the track kept hope alive and prevented them from having to sell everything.

Trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte played a crucial role in turning Riva Ridge into a champion. Together, they trained him well and fueled his competitive drive, leading to big wins like the Kentucky Derby in 1972. Their teamwork was outstanding, showing how their combined skills helped Riva Ridge reach the top.

Riva Ridge made history in Canadian racing with two Eclipse Awards for being the best two-year-old male and three-year-old male horse. His success showed that he was one of North America’s finest racehorses. Fans were captivated by his mix of shyness off-track and fierce determination on it.

Even though there were doubts about Meadow Stable’s future at first, Riva Ridge emerged as a hero with his incredible track record. His victories not only secured stability for the stable but also boosted morale among its members, giving them hope for what lay ahead. With hard work and talent, Riva Ridge became more than just an amazing athlete; he represented resilience and determination during tough times.

Every time you heard his hooves pounding on the racetrack, Riva Ridge embodied courage under pressure and dedication to excellence. Fans still talk about his legendary races that left a mark on American Thoroughbred history. Like a shooting star lighting up the sky, Riva Ridge blazed trails for future generations of horses looking to make their own unforgettable mark on racetracks worldwide.

Trainer and Jockey Collaboration

Trained by Lucien Laurin and ridden by Ron Turcotte, Riva Ridge made a strong team with his trainer and jockey. Their smooth teamwork was clear in how they planned races together, using Laurin’s horse training skills along with Turcotte’s expert riding techniques on the track.

Their partnership shined brightest at the 1972 Kentucky Derby when Riva Ridge surged forward under Turcotte’s guidance, not only showing off his speed but also displaying impressive endurance. The combined efforts of Laurin and Turcotte were vital in helping Riva Ridge clinch this prestigious victory, establishing them as one of the top trainer-jockey duos of their era.

More than just personal achievements, it was the great bond among all three – horse, trainer, and jockey – that led to successes at renowned races like the Belmont Stakes. This trio’s unwavering commitment to excellence set them apart from others in racing circles and left a lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing history.

Race Results: Top Performers and Exciting Moments

Finished Post Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Time / behind
1st 7 Riva Ridge Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable 2:01 4/5
2nd 11 No Le Hace Phil Rubbicco Homer C. Pardue Joseph W. Straus
3rd 3 Hold Your Peace Carlos Marquez Arnold N. Winick Maribel G. Blum
4th 4 Introductivo Robert Breen Stanley M. Rieser Mr. & Mrs. C. J. Robertson Sr.
5th 2 Sensitive Music John L. Rotz Grover W. Stephens Forrest H. Lindsay
6th 1 Freetex Chuck Baltazar William T. Raymond Middletown Stable
7th 16f Big Spruce Larry Adams Victor J. Nickerson Maxwell H. Gluck
8th 10 Head of the River Michael Hole J. Elliott Burch Rokeby Stables
9th 5 Big Brown Bear Ray Broussard Alex A. Fiore Mr. & Mrs. Arthur E. Reinhold
10th 6 Kentuckian Donald Brumfield Paul K. Parker Preston W. Madden
11th 9 Hassi’s Image Heliodoro Gustines Juan Arias Hassi Shina
12th 14f Majestic Needle Mike Manganello Ike K. Mourar Robert E. Lehmann
13th 13f Our Trade Winds Jim Nichols Robert E. Holthus Robert Mitchell
14th 15f Napoise Robert Kotenko Ike K. Mourar Robert E. Lehmann
15th 12f Dr. Neale Wendell Leeling Charles E. Nicholas Charles E. Nicholas
16th 8 Pacallo Gustavo Ávila Leo Sierra Walnut Hill Farm

Eclipse Award Wins

Riva Ridge was a standout in his races at ages two and four, earning him well-deserved Eclipse Awards. The recognition he got while still young showed the huge impact he made on horse racing.

His wins were more than just about being fast; they proved his dedication, spirit, and strong will to succeed. Riva Ridge’s performances wowed crowds around the world and cemented his reputation as a true legend of the sport.

The awards he received highlighted his exceptional talent and unwavering determination. Each time Riva Ridge won an Eclipse Award, it confirmed his spot among the best in Thoroughbred racing history.

These top honors weren’t just prizes for winning but symbols of excellence that showcased Riva Ridge’s natural skill to surpass expectations and redefine what it meant to be a champion racehorse.

Riva Ridge’s two Eclipse Awards are lasting proof of how brilliant he was on the track – inspiring future generations in horse racing.

Legacy and Recognition

Riva Ridge left a lasting mark on horse racing history, showcasing his incredible talent and determination on the track. Although Secretariat later stole the spotlight, Riva Ridge’s name still shines bright among fans of Thoroughbred racing who appreciate skill and excitement. Winning prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes solidified his status as one of the greats, displaying his speed, endurance, and heart that captivated fans worldwide.

Under Hall of Famer Lucien Laurin’s guidance and jockey Ron Turcotte’s skilled riding, Riva Ridge thrived. Their teamwork was crucial in shaping him into a top competitor. By carefully planning strategies and leveraging Riva Ridge’s strengths, they led him to victory time after time. This successful partnership between trainer and jockey propelled Riva Ridge to legendary heights.

Off-track, Riva Ridge had an intriguing persona that added depth to his story. Despite being shy around humans off the field, he showed fierce competitiveness during races – a unique duality that drew many admirers. His calm demeanor contrasted with his fiery spirit when he raced; this blend made him not only a champion but also a captivating individual whose presence left an impression on everyone he encountered.

Riva Ridge received recognition for his outstanding performances throughout his career with two Eclipse Awards: Champion 3-Year-Old Male Horse (1972) and Champion Handicap Male Horse (1973). Beyond awards lies Rive Bridge’s lasting impact on Canadian racing during stud duty after retirement – cementing him as more than just a racehorse but as symbol of excellence admired by past generations up till now.

Legendary tales surrounding Riva Ridge's Derby triumph

  1. Legendary stories about how Riva Ridge conquered the Derby:

  2. The famous trainer Lucien Laurin, a Hall of Famer who also coached Secretariat to Triple Crown victory, trained Riva Ridge.

  3. Despite being a favorite at the 1972 Kentucky Derby, Riva Ridge faced early challenges by starting slowly and falling to last place before making an impressive comeback for the win.

  4. Winning the Kentucky Derby was a big moment for jockey Ron Turcotte, as he later rode Secretariat to Triple Crown glory just one year after his success with Riva Ridge.

  5. The 1972 Kentucky Derby became even more memorable because it was broadcast nationwide in color for the first time ever, giving viewers a vivid look at Riva Ridge's amazing performance.

  6. After triumphing at Churchill Downs, not only did Riva Ridge secure his spot in racing history but he also won over fans worldwide, solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest horses of that era.

Personal Traits and Nicknames

Riva Ridge possessed a unique combination of shyness and competitive spirit that set him apart in the world of Thoroughbred racing. While he was reserved off the track, once the starting gates opened, he transformed into a fierce competitor with an intense drive to win, captivating spectators.

Known affectionately as “Old Pea Head” due to his distinct physical feature of a smaller head compared to other horses, Riva Ridge’s charm and individuality only added to his appeal. Fans were drawn not just to his impressive racing skills but also to his quirky yet lovable appearance.

Under the guidance of Lucien Laurin, a renowned trainer famous for mentoring horses like Secretariat, Riva Ridge underwent meticulous training that honed his natural talents and turned him into a formidable contender on the racetrack.

Jockey Ron Turcotte formed an exceptional partnership with Riva Ridge by understanding the horse’s temperament and adapting their race strategies accordingly. Their seamless collaboration led them to multiple victories together, including an unforgettable triumph at the Kentucky Derby that secured Riva Ridge’s place in racing history.

Despite being labeled as timid by some observers, Riva Ridge consistently demonstrated during races that beneath his quiet demeanor lay a heart full of determination and fire when competing against top rivals. His ability to transition from modesty outside races to sheer power inside them mesmerized global audiences while cementing his reputation as one of the greatest racehorses ever witnessed on tracks.

Influence on Canadian Racing

In 1972, Riva Ridge made history by winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, boosting interest in Canadian-bred horses. His impressive performances highlighted Canada’s top-notch breeding programs, opening doors for future Canadian Thoroughbreds to shine globally.

Jockey Ron Turcotte played a key role in guiding Riva Ridge to victory with skill and precision. Their partnership was built on trust and teamwork, captivating racing fans around the world.

Trainer Lucien Laurin’s strategic training approach set Riva Ridge apart from competitors. Recognizing the horse’s unique blend of qualities off-track and during races, Laurin tailored his coaching techniques accordingly. Under his guidance, Riva Ridge emerged as a confident champion inspiring aspiring jockeys and trainers alike.

Riva Ridge’s impact went beyond the racetrack with multiple Eclipse Award wins – including Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse – cementing his legacy as one of North America’s most respected racehorses. His enduring influence on Canadian racing today serves as a reminder of how perseverance, teamwork, and unwavering spirit can lead to greatness against all odds.

Retirement From Racing

After a successful racing career that included wins at prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, Riva Ridge retired and spent his days relaxing at Meadow Stable before he passed away. He enjoyed peacefully grazing in green pastures, showing grace even when resting.

Even after leaving the racetrack, Riva Ridge remained a legend in American Thoroughbred history. Fans often visited Meadow Stable to see this famous horse who had captured their hearts with exciting performances on the track.

Although he is no longer here physically, Riva Ridge’s spirit lives on through memories of his racing days. His legacy still motivates young jockeys and trainers striving for excellence at Churchill Downs and beyond.

Historical Significance

In 1972, Riva Ridge conquered the Kentucky Derby, a huge win for Meadow Stable that showcased the talent of Canadian-bred horses. This victory paved the way for other Canadian equines to shine in American Thoroughbred racing.

Riva Ridge’s trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte formed a legendary team that brought out the best in this racehorse. Their partnership led to victories in prestigious races like the Belmont Stakes and Flamingo Stakes. Laurin’s training skills combined with Turcotte’s horsemanship played a key role in establishing Riva Ridge as one of racing history’s most celebrated champions.

What made Riva Ridge special wasn’t just his speed or strength; it was his mix of shyness off-track and fierce competitiveness on it. Once he hit the racetrack, he transformed into a determined competitor eager to make his mark on every race. Fans worldwide were captivated by his dual nature, respecting him as an unstoppable force.

Riva Ridge didn’t just win races – he also earned multiple Eclipse Awards recognizing his outstanding career performances. His impact extended beyond winning prestigious races; he inspired horse lovers and professionals alike to aim for greatness while honoring tradition—a true testament to his enduring influence on American Thoroughbred history.


1. What was the significance of Riva Ridge's victory at the 1972 Kentucky Derby?

Riva Ridge won the 1972 Kentucky Derby thanks to the teamwork and talent of his trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte. This victory showcased Riva's exceptional skill, determination, and competitive drive, making him a standout racehorse with a mix of shyness and fierce spirit that set him apart in history.

2. How did Riva Ridge's trainer and jockey collaborate to achieve success on the racetrack?

Lucien Laurin, the trainer of Riva Ridge, and jockey Ron Turcotte worked together effortlessly. They combined Laurin's top-notch training methods with Turcotte's exceptional riding skills to lead Riva Ridge to a win in the 1972 Kentucky Derby and beyond.

3. What unique traits did Riva Ridge possess that set him apart from other racehorses?

Riva Ridge stood out from other racehorses with his special mix of shyness and strong drive to win, displaying a rare balance of being sensitive yet fiercely determined on the racetrack.

4. How did Riva Ridge's victories at prestigious races contribute to his enduring legacy in American Thoroughbred history?

Riva Ridge became a legendary American Thoroughbred by winning the prestigious 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte led him to these victories, showcasing his incredible mix of caution and determination that captured the hearts of racing fans. Riva Ridge's success also left a lasting impact on Canadian horse racing.

5. In what ways did Riva Ridge's influence extend beyond his racing career, particularly in Canadian racing circles?

Riva Ridge continued to make a mark even after his racing days by fathering champion horses in Canada and establishing a strong legacy in Canadian horse racing with his impressive genes and fierce competitiveness.

6. Can you share any notable anecdotes or stories that highlight Riva Ridge's impact on the world of horse racing?

In 1972, Riva Ridge won the Kentucky Derby, making him a legendary horse in racing history. This victory not only brought success to his trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte but also showcased Riva Ridge's exceptional talent as a racehorse. His mix of shyness and strong competitive spirit made fans adore him and left a lasting impact on the sport.