A life-size bronze sculpture of retired Kentucky Derby (gr. I)-winning jockey Pat Day is on schedule for a formal unveiling and dedication at Churchill Downs during the opening week of its Oct. 29-Nov. 25 fall meet. Day is the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs and a member of Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame.
Louisville sculptor Raymond Graf is creating the bronze, and Day and Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton visited Graf's studio Sept. 19 to admire the work-in-progress. Graf has completed a clay model of the sculpture, and his next step will be the creation of a rubber mold of that model. Wax will then be poured into the rubber mold to make a wax copy, and that copy will be sent to a foundry to be cast in bronze.
Graf's bronze captures an image of Day raising his eyes and hands toward the sky as he gave thanks to God following his victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby aboard W.C. Partee's Lil E. Tee. That victory marked Day's only success in the Derby in 22 attempts.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Day. "I don't know if any mortal person deserves to be immortalized quite like this, but this is tremendous honor for me and my family, and for everybody that's helped me in my incredibly successful career – not the least of which is the one that I'm acknowledging in this pose."
Graf's work will ultimately be located in the Paddock Garden. He has created distinctive bronze sculptures of Louisville sports icons such as Brooklyn Dodgers star Pee Wee Reese and Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers legend Paul Hornung; business and education leaders J. Graham Brown, Tom Simons, Finis E. Davis, and Al Schneider; Boys' Haven founder Father James Maloney; and the University of Louisville's Cardinal Bird mascot.
"The sports figures are a lot more fun," said Graf. "A guy in a suit is kind of boring. You get to put a little life in their stance. It's lots of fun."