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Secretariat jockey Turcotte in 'great spirits' as recovery from van accident continues

03/13/2015 06:24 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
Ron Turcotte was in "great spirits" on Friday and gabbing on the phone with fellow jockeys while recovering in a hospital after breaking his legs earlier this week in a one-vehicle crash.

A spokesman for the jockey who rode Secretariat to the 1973 Triple Crown had no update on Turcotte's condition, but said there are no plans to release him from the hospital anytime soon.

Turcotte, who has been paralyzed from the waist down after a riding spill in 1978, was hurt when the van he was driving hit an icy patch and flipped on its side on the Trans-Canada Highway near his home in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, police said.

"I spoke to Ron for some time today, and he is in great spirits," spokesman Leonard Lusky told The Associated Press in an email on Friday. "Many of his fellow legendary jockey pals have called and that always cheers him up anyway, shooting the bull with them just like they did 40 years ago on the track."

Among the callers, said Lusky, were fellow Hall of Famers Pat Day and Eddie Maple. Lusky added that he recently passed on well wishes to Turcotte from Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery and fellow Triple Crown-winner riders Jean Cruguet (Seattle Slew, 1977) and Steve Cauthen (Affirmed, 1978).

"He remains upbeat and very grateful and flattered by all the public support," Lusky said.

The 73-year-old Turcotte is best known as the jockey of Secretariat, who swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in '73 to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1948.

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