Jockey Pat Day signs a Bobble Head likeness of himself.

Jockey Pat Day signs a Bobble Head likeness of himself.

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Bobble Head Mania Hits Churchill Downs

From Churchill Downs
In a scene that may have more closely resembled the Oklahoma land rush or the opening of the holiday shopping season, crowds flocked to Churchill Downs on Saturday to seize vouchers for the track's giveaway of the highly prized Pat Day Bobble Heads. Gates opened nearly five minutes early at 11:25 a.m. (EST) and by 11:55 a.m., within the first half-hour, over 10,000 admissions had been registered and all the bobble head vouchers had been issued.

Churchill Downs officials organized the track's admission gates in a Kentucky Derby Day setup and had 36 turnstiles in operation at its three main admission areas -- 17 more than the number in operation on a normal Saturday. An additional 85 personnel, consisting of security, ushers and admission clerks were staffed to assist with the rush of fans, who began to gather at the admission gates before 7 a.m.

Day, a member of racing's Hall of Fame, is the all-time leading jockey at Churchill Downs and ranks third on the racing's all-time win list. The seven-inch bobble head doll is a likeness of Day wearing the orange-and-white racing silks of the late W. C. Partee. Day wore those silks when he rode Partee's Lil E. Tee to victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby.

"All in all, it went very well," said Churchill Downs Vice President of Operations David Sweazy. "The crowd seemed to appreciate the festive atmosphere of the promotion and everyone was well behaved for a crowd of this size."

Attendance for Saturday's races at Churchill Downs was 19,806.

"I don't know that it's really set in," Day said of the promotion. "My wife brought me out and dropped me off this morning and picked up a couple of boxes of the dolls. When we came around the corner there on Central (Avenue) and they were lined up around the (Kentucky Derby) Museum, it was just a bit mind boggling. It's just hard for me to comprehend that kind of thing. I'm overwhelmed by it. I'm honored beyond belief and just very touched by the response of the fans. I'm touched that Churchill Downs would seek to do something like that and even more overwhelmed and touched by the response of the fans."