Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, is recovering from surgery performed on his right hip on Wednesday in Vail, Colo. and has already started his schedule of rehabilitation.Day, who spoke by telephone Thursday morning with Churchill Downs officials, said he still has faint hopes of riding in the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) May 7, but said that the deterioration of the labrum, the cartilage that lines the hip joint, was a bit more extensive than anticipated. Dr. Marc Philippon performed the procedure at Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail."There was a little more deterioration in there than they thought there was at first," Day said. "But they were able to clean it all up, repair the major portion of the cartilage and clean up the bone spurs. The doctor was very happy with the outcome of the surgery and everything went really well."Day launched into his schedule of rehabilitation activities almost immediately. He said he was on a stationary bicycle for about 20 minutes within four hours of the procedure. He checked out of Steadman-Hawkins Clinic late Wednesday and is staying in a Vail apartment with his wife, Sheila, and mother, Carol, as he continues his recovery.The 51-year-old native of Brush, Colo., still holds hope that his recovery will be swift enough to continue his record string of 21 consecutive rides in the Kentucky Derby."We haven't thrown it out the window yet," Day said. "The physical therapist as well as the doctor said last night that I was responding better than any patient they've ever had, in the way that I was able to get up and get around. We still have hope, but we're not going to press it, as I said earlier. We're not going to take one step forward and two steps back. We're going to try to do what the doctor tells us to do and trust that the recovery process will be speedy and complete, and we're still in hopes that I'll be back in the saddle by the first part of May."Day will continue his recovery and rehabilitation in Vail through April 9. He plans to travel to his mother's home in Grand Junction, Colo. the following day and then fly back to his home near Louisville.
Day has 8,780 career victories – fourth on racing's all-time win list, behind Laffit Pincay, Jr., Russell Baze and Bill Shoemaker. He was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1991 and earned Eclipse Awards as the nation's top jockey in 1984, '86, '87 and '91. Day established a record for career earnings by a North American rider in 2002, a total that now stands at $296,380,336. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1992 aboard W.C. Partee's Lil E. Tee and has notched eight other victories in Visa Triple Crown races. Day is the only jockey to have ridden in all 21 renewals of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and has won 12 of those races, the second highest total in the history of the event. He leads Breeders' Cup riders with earnings of $23,033,360.