Turcotte began his career in Toronto as a hot walker for E. P. Taylor's Windfields Farm in 1959, but he was soon wearing the silks and winning races. As an apprentice jockey he rode Windfields' Northern Dancer to his first victory. He gained prominence with his victory aboard Tom Rolfe in the 1965 Preakness Stakes.
Turcotte became internationally famous in 1973 when he rode Secretariat to win the first Triple Crown in 25 years, with records for each race, and the phenomenal finish of Secretariat 31 lengths ahead of the field in the Belmont. A photograph of Secretariat winning the race, with Turcotte looking over his shoulder at the pack, far behind, became famous. Turcotte was North America's leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973. He became the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbies since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902 and was the first jockey to ever have won five of six consecutive Triple Crown races (matched in 2015 by Victor Espinoza).
He was voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award that honors a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing. He is the first person from Thoroughbred racing ever to be appointed a member of the Order of Canada.
Turcotte's career ended in 1978 following a tumble from his horse, Flag of Leyte Gulf, at the start of a race at Belmont Park. He suffered injuries that resulted in his being a paraplegic.
In 1984 he became the first ever recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award given annually to the jockey who is Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or a regular in the country, who has made significant contributions to the sport.
Turcotte now lives in his home town of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife Gaëtane and their four daughters. He is an advocate for the disabled and helps to raise funds for disability programs.
A well-known survivor of an on-track accident, Turcotte makes appearances at racetracks to raise funds and awareness of the assistance that the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) provides to fellow injured riders.
Turcotte was hospitalized on March 9, 2015 following a single-vehicle accident in New Brunswick. The van he was driving flipped after hitting a snowbank. Turcotte and a friend were both injured in the accident. Turcotte sustained fractures to both legs, while his friend suffered minor injuries.
Directed by Phil Comeau, a National Film Board of Canada documentary feature film on Ron Turcotte's life and career, Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte, had its world premiere in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2013.
- Ocala Star-Banner article on Ron Turcotte – June 23, 1972
- "Secretariat's jockey touched by hometown tribute". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Honoured Member - Ron Turcotte". www.sportshall.ca. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- L'Heureux, Juliana, "French-Canadian Jockey a Horse Racing Legend"
- "Stories: Ron Turcotte" Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund website
-  - ESPN Horse Racing website
-  - WKTY website
- "Hollywood Unnecessarily Embellishes the Real Tale of Secretariat". AOL.Original. Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- Wolski, Tom (20 June 2013). "Finally, a movie about Secretariat's jockey". Vancouver Province. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Heller, Bill. The Will to Win: Ron Turcotte's Ride to Glory (1992) Fifth House Publishers ISBN 978-1-895618-08-2
- Ron Turcotte profile at Penny Chenery's Secretariat.com
- Ron Turcotte at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
- Ron Turcotte at the United States ' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame