This is truly a piece of racing history on two fronts. First, it represents the accomplishments of the Meadow Racing Stable’s Riva Ridge, Secretariat's overshadowed stablemate who was a Hall of Fame champion in his own right, and second it emanates from the personal collection of Riva’s Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte.
A half century ago, Riva Ridge was named the champion 2-year-old male for the 1971 racing season as part of the first-ever Eclipse Awards, Thoroughbred racing’s equine version of the Academy Awards, annually recognizing the sport's best and brightest stars. On January 26, 1972, the initial Eclipse Awards presentation took place at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, and along with Riva Ridge honored the connections of Horse of the Year, Ack Ack, champions Canonero II, Cougar, Numbered Account, Shuvee, Turkish Trousers, and steeplechaser Shadow Brook along with jockeys Laffit Pincay and Gene St. Leon, trainer Charlie Whittingham and owner/breeder Paul Mellon. Only those who attended the prestigious dinner ceremony at that inaugural historic event received an accompanying complimentary souvenir medallion marking the important occasion. These incredibly rare pieces, measuring 3” in diameter and 1/4” thick, were artfully cast in solid bronze and feature the relief of the award’s famed namesake Eclipse, along with the event name and date on the front. The reverse side depicts a horse in full-body relief along with the event organizers: industry publications Daily Racing Form and Morning Telegraph, as well as the Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA).
Riva Ridge’s 1971 accomplishments include victories in the Flash Stakes, Belmont Futurity, Champagne Stakes, Laurel Futurity and Garden State Stakes establishing a new record as racing’s all-time leading juvenile earner. The windfall of his juvenile success, along with his acclaimed victories as a 3-year-old in 1972 including the Bluegrass Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Hollywood Derby, account for his often being referenced as “the horse who saved Meadow farm.” As a 4-year-old in 1973 Riva went on to earn a second championship winning the Massachusetts, Brooklyn, and Stuyvesant Handicaps before retiring to stallion duty alongside Secretariat at Claiborne Farm with 17 victories in 30 starts and total earnings of $1,111,347.
The medallion has been kept in protected storage since its acquisition, and is showcased within its own velvet lined mahogany wood display case. Its auction will help benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, a cause near and dear to Mr. Turcotte.