Retired riding legend Pat Day, the all-time leading jockey at Churchill Downs and a member of racing's Hall of Fame, will be honored when the home of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) salutes his career and contributions to racing with a special "Pat's Day" celebration at the track Saturday, Nov. 12.
"Pat's Day" festivities include a full day of activities at the track and the giveaway of a commemorative poster of highlights of Day's career - including his 1992 Kentucky Derby win aboard W.C. Partee's Lil E. Tee - to the first 7,500 patrons through the track's admission gates with paid or pre-paid admission.
Day announced his retirement in early August and ended a 32-year riding career to focus on his work with the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America. He rode 8,803 winners during those decades - fourth on the all-time victory list - and is the all-time leader in career earnings as his mounts collected $297,912,019 in purses. The native of Brush, Col. lives in Louisville with his wife, Sheila, and his daughter, Irene, who is a freshman at the University of Louisville.
Activities planned for "Pat's Day" include an autograph session, a VIP reception breakfast, lunch with a number of the track's Twin Spires Club members, and a winner's circle celebration honoring Day's career.
The daylong celebration of Day's career will conclude with a roast of the guest of honor. The "What A Difference A Day Makes" roast will benefit three charities: Mom's Closet, an organization headed by Day's wife, Sheila, that provides clothing and food to single mothers; the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America; and victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The fundraising roast of Day will be held in the Triple Crown Room in the Jockey Club Suites and is limited to 300 tickets at $200 each. The evening will include a silent auction of memorabilia from Day's career and other special racing items. "What A Difference A Day Makes" opens with appetizers and non-alcoholic "mocktails" at 6:30 p.m. (all times Eastern), with dinner at 7:30 p.m. and the roast begins at 8:30 p.m.
"I'm just really excited that Churchill Downs would choose to honor me," said Day. "We've had a tremendous amount of success at Churchill Downs. It has played a major role in the staggering numbers that we've been able to chalk up over the years. And, of course, it's the home of our greatest victory, which was the Kentucky Derby in 1992 aboard Lil E. Tee.
"I'm really looking forward to the day and the opportunity to meet and greet a number of people through an autograph session, along with the opportunity to express my appreciation to the fans who have supported me over the years. I'm just really excited about everything that is planned for that day."
Day arrived at Churchill Downs in the Spring Meet of 1980 and promptly lost his first 14 races. But after he finally visited the winner's circle, he never stopped as his career total of 2,481 wins under the venerable Twin Spires is easily the best in the track's history. He won 155 stakes races, which is also a Churchill Downs record.
Along with his Kentucky Derby in 1992 with W.C. Partee's Lil E Tee, Day's Triple Crown resume also includes five victories in the Preakness (gr. I) and three wins in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He rode in a record 21 consecutive Kentucky Derbys, a streak that ended when his hip surgery forced the 51-year-old Day to miss this year's renewal of the famed "Run for the Roses."
He won a record 34 riding titles at Churchill Downs, a total that includes 15 Spring Meet titles and 19 Fall Meet crowns. Both totals are records for those meets.
Day piloted a Churchill Downs record seven winners in a single day on June 20, 1984. The record win total came from eight mounts. He rode six winners in a single day at the track four times and enjoyed 21 days on which he won five races at the track.
"Pat Day is not only a great jockey and outstanding athlete, he is one of our community's most respected and beloved citizens and a wonderful role model," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs. "Few people wear the label of 'legend' as comfortably as Pat and Churchill Downs is delighted to offer this opportunity for our community to say 'thank you' for all that he has given us through the years. We look forward to joining Pat's family, fans and friends from throughout our community and the country in this celebration of his incredible career on 'Pat's Day' at Churchill Downs."