A bronze statue of Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day, his arms raised in triumph, was unveiled during a noon ceremony Sunday at Churchill Downs. The sculpture, created by Louisville artist Raymond Graf, was inspired by Day's victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) aboard Lil E. Tee.
Making the presentation to Day in front of a nice crowd, were Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton, John Asher, vice president of communications, and Graf. Day was joined by his mother, Carol, wife Sheila, and daughter Irene.
"It is a special moment because of Pat's relationship with Churchill Downs and the community," said Asher prior to the unveiling. "He is a beloved member of the community. He is a better human being than a rider, and he's the best rider there has ever been.
"Of all the great people who have walked through this incredible racetrack since it opened in 1875, no one has ever been memorialized quite like this," Asher said. The statue faces the paddock while being positioned in the garden, next to the likeness of Aristidies, the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.
Day, the track's all-time leader in every major category, mouthed the word "Wow" when the veil was pulled off the five-foot statue by Graf and himself.
"I want to thank Churchill Downs in honoring me in this way, and certainly Raymond Graf for the awesome job in the production of this statue," Day said, who became a little choked up while speaking. "When I went to see the wax model several weeks ago, the thing that I wanted to stand out was the look in my face and the look in my eyes. And you did that, Raymond."
"This comes on the heels of an incredibly successful career," Day continued. "It couldn't have been possible without the support and love from my family, certainly the help from all the trainers and owners over the years that have given me the opportunity, and Churchill Downs and a number of other racing facilities that have given us the place to showcase our talents."
"There are two words to come to our mind when we think of Pat Day. One is inspiration and the other is commitment," said Sexton. "The inspiration you'll see in the statue. And commitment? Pat is just as committed as anybody not only to his sport but to his faith and to his family."
Churchill Downs did have Graf strike 15 hand-held statuettes of the Day sculpture. One was for Day, with the other 14 to be sold to raise money for the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America.