Thorwarth Returns To Gulfstream In New Role
By Dave Joseph
HALLANDALE BEACH – Let’s see…there was the red carpet Hollywood premier, rubbing elbows with actress Diane Lane, and playing football on the movie set with actor John Malkovich.
But when asked how his life has changed since starring in the movie, SECRETARIAT, Otto Thorwarth says from his home in Hot Springs, Ark., “To be honest, my life is not all that different…except for people razzing me and calling me ‘Ron’ sometimes.”
Thorwarth, who rode at small Midwest tracks for nearly 15 years, took the ride of his life when he was cast by director Randall Wallace to play jockey Ron Turcotte in the movie SECRETARIAT.
Thorwarth, who rode nearly 1,500 winners in his career, will be at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29 to help celebrate the release of SECRETARIAT on Blue-ray combo, DVD and Movie Download. He’ll be joined by Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery and author of ‘Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land – The Family – The Legend,’ and Charlie Davis, one of Secretariat’s exercise riders.
Thorwarth will appear beginning at 8:30 a.m., during ‘Breakfast At Gulfstream,’ which runs from 7-10 a.m. The first 100 fans who order the ‘Breakfast At Gulfstream’ buffet will receive a free Secretariat movie poster. There will also be giveaways throughout the day as part of Gulfstream’s Sunshine Millions day.
Thorwarth said he’s curious about seeing how much Gulfstream has changed since last being here in the 1990s while working as an exercise rider for Frank Brothers.
Thorwarth was informed that Disney was casting for the role of Turcotte while riding two years ago at River Downs. When asked if he had ever acted, Thorwarth replied, “Only when I went before the stewards.”
“That’s about right,” recalled Thorwarth last week with a laugh. “You know, the whole thing just kind of happened. I had quit riding in ’05 and had retired. But after about a year off, I felt the Lord lead me back to the track. I wasn’t sure why, but I listened and went back. And he had a movie for me.”
After reading for the part on a Friday in Lexington in front of Wallace, who also wrote the screenplay for Braveheart, Thorwarth was awarded the role on the following Monday. He said his experience was memorable.
“It was a great experience,” Thorwarth said. “Randall really encouraged me, and has continued to encourage me. Diane Lane was a sweetheart, and John Malkovich was wonderful. The first day I was standing outside my trailer throwing the football with someone on the set when John stepped out of his trailer and put up his hands to throw him the ball. I didn’t know what to do; whether he could catch the ball or not. All I needed was to throw the ball to him and break his nose. But he caught it, threw a perfect spiral to me, and he was part of the team.”
Thorwarth said he recently contacted an agency in California in hopes of additional movie roles, and Wallace has told him he wants to use him in some upcoming projects. In the meantime, “I get on five or six horses each morning at at Oaklawn Park,” Thorwarth said. “Once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to get it out.”