Patrick Alan (Pat) Day (1953–)
Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East Coast, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, in Elmont, New York, in 1976.
From the 1980s to the early 2000s, Day enjoyed much success as a thoroughbred jockey. In that time, he led all jockeys by wins from 1982 to 1984, in 1986, and from 1990 to 1991. He also led in earnings in 1999 and 2000, with $18,092,845 and $17,479,838, respectively. Day won more than 1,000 races at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, including the Southwest Stakes in 1985 and 1987; the Rebel Stakes in 1984, 1985, and 1987; the Apple Blossom Handicap in 1985, 1991, and 1995; and the Arkansas Derby in 1986, 1987, and 1997. Day’s three wins in the Arkansas Derby are the most by a single jockey in that event.
Day duplicated his Arkansas achievements in Kentucky, especially at Churchill Downs, where he ranks as the track’s leading rider, with 2,481 wins. His first major triumph at the famed Louisville track came in 1983, when he won both divisions of the Pocahontas Stakes. Day won the event again in 1984, 1987, 1994, 1995, and 2004. At Churchill Downs, he prevailed in the Clark Handicap in 1984, 1985, 1990, and 2000; the Stephen Foster Handicap in 1985, 1998, and 2003; the La Troienne Stakes in 1986 and 1990; the Derby Trial Stakes in 1987, 1991, 1993, and 2000; the Kentucky Oaks in 1988 and 2000; the Turf Classic Stakes in 1988 and 1994; the Debutante Stakes in 1996, 1997, 2002, and 2004; the Falls City Handicap in 2000 and 2002; and the Dogwood Stakes in 1998. Day rode Lil E. Tee to victory in the Kentucky Derby in 1992.
Day’s accomplishments extended beyond Churchill Downs to the Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, and Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky. At Keeneland, he captured the Blue Grass Stakes in 1984, 1990, 1999, and 2000; the Appalachian Stakes in 1991, 1993, 2000, and 2002; the Bourbon Stakes in 1991, 1998, and 1999; and the Raven Run Stakes in 1999, 2001, and 2003. Day leads all jockeys by wins in both the Appalachian Stakes and Raven Run Stakes. As the most winning jockey in both the Jim Beam Stakes and Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, he captured the Jim Beam Stakes in 1984, 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1992, and in the Bourbonette Oaks in 1987, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2001, and 2002.
One of the most successful riders in the Breeders’ Cup, Day ranks as the top money winner in the history of the event. As the only jockey to have ridden in each of the first twenty Breeders’ Cups, he ranks third in victories. Day’s Breeders’ Cup wins include the Classic in 1984, 1990, 1998, and 1999; the Distaff in 1986, 1991, and 2001; the Juvenile in 1994 and 1997; the Juvenile Fillies in 1987 and 1994; and the Turf in 1987.
With nine titles, Day ranks in the top six jockeys who have ridden to victory in the Triple Crown races. Before winning the Kentucky Derby in 1992, Day had already won the Preakness, in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1985 and 1990, as well as the Belmont Stakes in 1989. He won the Preakness again in 1994, 1995, and 1996, for a total of five wins. Day won the Belmont Stakes again in 1994 and 2000. He rode Tabasco Cat to victory in both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in 1994.
Following hip surgery in 2005, Day retired from thoroughbred horse racing. With 8,803 wins, which netted $297,941,912, he ranks as history’s fourth-most-successful jockey. The recipient of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1991, Day was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. A devout Christian since overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction in the early 1980s, he works as an industry spokesperson for the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America.
For additional information:
“Patrick Alan ‘Pat’ Day.” Derby Legends. http://www.derbylegends.com/pat-day/biography.shtml (accessed May 31, 2019).
Woodland, Shannon, and Scott Ross. “Pat Day: Faith in the Winner’s Circle.” Christian Broadcasting Network. http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/sports/Pat_Day050307.aspx (accessed May 31, 2019).
Adam R. Hornbuckle
Spring Hill, Tennessee
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