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Q&A With Secretariat’s Otto Thorwarth

January 20, 2011

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Professional jockey Otto Thorwarth plays Ronnie Turcotte in Disney’s Secretariat. We got the incredible opportunity to ask Otto some questions about his experiences on the race track and the movie set! Plus, he gives his tips on how to get into horseback riding!

Kidzworld: How does being a jockey in real life differ from playing one in a movie?

  • Otto: Luckily there wasn’t a difference. The Randall Wallace, the producer, was very keen on making sure the movie accurately portrayed real life horse racing, jockeys, races, stables, etc. So I got to just play myself which was the perfect role!

Kidzworld: Was this your first time acting?

  • Otto: This was my first time acting yes.

Kidzworld: How did they get the actual racing shots for the movie? How did the cameras keep up with the horses?

  • Otto: The film producers had a huge bulletin board with color coded pins for each horse that would advise us as to where we needed to be stationed for each shot. They would watch the old races on tape and then study exactly where the horses were stationed to make sure we did the same. They even measured how many feet we needed to be away from each other. We had to do a few takes for some scenes. The cameras were on trucks that ran in between and/or next to us. That was also difficult and a little distracting at moments for the jockeys and horses alike.

Kidzworld: What’s the most exciting horse race, in your opinion, and why?

  • Otto: My favorite horse races were the ones with “Easy Goer” and “Sunday Silence” from the 1989. The only other one that ranks high up there would be Zenyatta winning the breeders cup classic in 2009.

Kidzworld: How do you become a professional jockey? Any recommendations for kids that want to try out horseback riding/racing?

  • Otto: I did it the hard way. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I started as a hot walker, then moved up to a groomer and then eventually made it as a jockey. My advice/recommendations to kids today who want to get into racing is to look into Chris McCarron’s jockey school in Kentucky. I highly recommend it. I’ve seen some great kids come out of there and they are very knowledgeable and well-trained. It’s amazing.
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