Racing Industry Reacts to Day's Retirement

The decision by Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day to retire at age 51 elicited the following reactions from those with whom he has worked during his illustrious career.

Compiled by Leslie Deckard, Pete Spanos, Esther Marr, and Steve Haskin

Carl Nafzger, trainer of Unbridled, who was ridden by Day to victory in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I):
"The sport will dearly miss him. He was a great leader, a great rider and a great person. Personally, I wish him the best. He was a friend, and a guy you could trust. When you put Pat Day on a horse you got a ride. I hate to hear that he's gone."

Lynn Whiting, trainer, Lil E. Tee, ridden by Day to victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby (gr. I):
"He was the top of the line. They tore up the mold when they made him--he's the genuine article. He's a friend, and I guess you have to say that time marches on, but I know he'll be missed by a lot of people and I count myself as one of them."

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Cat Thief, ridden by Day to victory in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic:
"Pat had a great feel and concern for the industry as a whole. He always represented his profession with great dignity and class, but his strong point was the feel he had for the owners and the backside employees. He was very instrumental in the development of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. He gave a lot of himself, besides riding horses and getting a check on Saturday afternoon, and that's what made him stand out. He's on the threshold of breaking the all-time record (for wins), but he has such a peace with himself he doesn't need to have a record to feel like he's had an unbelievable career. I don't think that would enter into his decision. He and I went from A to Z. We won on the 1-9 shots and we won on the 35-1 we went top to bottom with him."

Ric Waldman, advisor to Overbrook Farm:
"There have been a few of the top jockeys with whom Mr. (late W. T.) Young had a mutual respect, and Pat Day was certainly one of them. It was always interesting to see Pat and Mr. Young in the paddock together before a race--you could see this close, respectful friendship. Mr. Young always liked it when Pat was on his horse. Pat Day was a winner and Mr. Young liked to have winners ride his horses. That they liked each other was no coincidence."

John Asher, vice president, racing communications at Churchill Downs:
"He is and has been for years, the dominant figure in Kentucky racing. He is a superstar in Kentucky racing. There are a couple of generations of people that don't remember a time without Pat Day. His retirement marks an end of an era. From my standpoint, it's been an incredible joy just watching a true artist at work. He's a natural as far as I am concerned. There's nobody who has more God-given talent than Pat Day. Just his communication with the horses, the clock in his head, and his physical make-up make him the perfect jockey. And to be a terrific person on top of that is just a bonus."

Nick Nicholson, president of Keeneland Race Course:
"Pat Day has been part of the racing scene here for so long that it's going to be hard to imagine it without him. He won his first race here 25 years ago and he's won more races here than anybody in history. He's done what no one else has done and he's done it with such style and grace that it will be impossible to replace. We're grateful we've been able to spend so many years watching him do what he does so well and we'll miss not seeing him apply his trade. He's a little bit like Michael Jordan...when he plays the game, he makes it look easy."

Fred Aime, Day's agent for 10 years
"Pat was a multi-talent of every aspect of being a jockey. He was such a class act that you could walk into any barn and feel confident that you were representing someone that any trainer would love to have on their horse. He was always a gentleman and I never had a cross word with him the entire 10 years that I worked for him. I can't say enough good things about Pat Day."