07/06/2012 1:51PM

Fort Erie: Turcotte honorary drawmaster for Prince of Wales


FORT ERIE, Ontario − The Prince of Wales Stakes, scheduled for next Sunday at Fort Erie, will have its post-position draw Wednesday, and the drawmaster will be the none other than Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973 with the mighty Secretariat.

The Prince of Wales is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. The first leg, the Queen’s Plate, was won by Strait of Dover on June 24 at Woodbine.

Turcotte, 70, finished his career with 3,032 wins, including back-to-back Kentucky Derbies and five of the six Triple Crown races in 1972 and 1973. Paralyzed in an on-track incident in 1978, Turcotte resides with his family in his home province of New Brunswick and is an active supporter of the Disabled Jockey Fund.

Apprentice rider keeps hope amid slump

A jockey’s career has many ups and downs. Even Steve Cauthen, winner of the Triple Crown with Affirmed in 1978, once lost 110 races in a row.

Apprentice jockey Janine Smith, 23, is currently in a riding slump, with one win in 66 tries at the Fort Erie meet. It is a discouraging statistic, yet Smith continues to give each ride her best.

“I can’t knock the willingness of trainers to put me up,” said Smith, who had 22 wins from 195 starts in 2011. “Last year I was able to win my share, but this year has been a struggle.

“Each day I work on thinking positive, and I do believe that things will turn around,” she said. “My thanks go out to those trainers that have stuck by me.”

Smith said she will stay with the Fort if it does remain open, but she said Turf Paradise is high on her list as well as Hastings Park..

For now, Smith said she looks forward to the rest of the meet.

“I ride to win, and I feel certain that those wins will come,” she said.

No thoughts of comeback for Hammett

Jockeys often retire and return, but for Lisa Hammett, a serious arm injury she suffered last year ended all thoughts of a comeback. Hammett, whose last mount came in July 2007, said she is finally and officially retired.

“It came from out of the blue, totally unexpected,” Hammett, 45, said of the injury. “We were busying ourselves in the shed row, when suddenly a gelding lashed out, smashed my arm, and broke it cleanly. It snapped and the bone was sticking out at an obscene angle. It will never be the same.”

Hammett had been on and off the border oval scene for more than 20 years. She rode in 2,319 races, winning 256 of them.

Hammett said she intends to pursue a career in photo journalism and will be taking courses and training to receive accreditation.