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Patrick Alan "Pat" Day (born October 13, 1953 in Brush, Colorado) is an American jockey. He is a four-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991. Day also received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1985, given annually to a North American jockey who demonstrates the highest standards of professional and personal conduct. In 1995, he was voted the Mike Venezia Memorial Award for "extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship". Some critics said Day was a big fish in a small pond because the majority of his wins and all of his riding titles were in the Midwest. Day didn't win any riding titles in California, New York or Florida, when he was facing the best jockey competition while riding on a daily basis.
Pat Day was known for being a patient rider with gentle hands, and for not using a horse more than he had to. Because Day often arrived at the wire too late, he was given unflattering nicknames—Pat (I'll Wait All) Day, Pat Delay Day and Patient Pat. Many critics described Day's riding as exasperating, and many still grind their teeth remembering many of his rides aboard different horses. His patience as a rider was at times demoralizing for owners, trainers, fans and bettors. As Pat Forde, a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, penned in 1995, “He is so patient he could watch a faucet drip for days.” Day's riding style, as Barry Irwin wrote in 2016, "drove many a captain of industry, hard-boot trainer and horseplayer to the brink of rage." He often looked too passive, and his deliberate riding style of waiting and waiting, then making a move, and waiting again, frustrated trainer D. Wayne Lukas, and many fans and bettors. He also drew criticism by riding tentatively, and stopping and starting with many of his mounts.
Day stated, "Easy Goer was the best horse I ever rode." Day has ridden winners of U.S. Triple Crown races nine times, ranking him well behind Eddie Arcaro's 17 wins in Triple Crown races as well as Bill Shoemaker's 11, while tied with Gary Stevens, Bill Hartack and Earl Sande's 9 each. However, Day had a poor Kentucky Derby record with only one win in twenty two tries. Some of Day's losses on top horses in the Kentucky Derby included Easy Goer, Forty Niner, Summer Squall, Demon's Begone, Rampage, Corporate Report, Tabasco Cat, Timber Country, Prince of Thieves, Favorite Trick, Ten Most Wanted and in 1999 he rode Menifee, who finished second behind Charismatic in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Pat Day's first and only Kentucky Derby victory was aboard Lil E. Tee, who in 1992 scored one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Kentucky Derby. On the day of that 1992 Kentucky Derby, future Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy was forced to scratch from the race due to a foot injury. The heavy favorite in that 1992 Kentucky Derby was American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Arazi, who was coming into the race after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove chip fractures from the top joint of both knees.
In 1991, Pat Day won the Canadian Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Distaff aboard the future Hall of Fame filly Dance Smartly. He is the only jockey to have ridden at least one mount in each of the first 20 Breeders' Cups, and ranks sixth all-time in Breeders' Cup winners, with 12. Day ranks behind Mike E. Smith's 26 Breeders' Cup winners, John Velazquez's 16, Jerry Bailey's 15, Lanfranco Dettori's 14, and Garrett Gomez's 13.
Day is also the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course, the two largest tracks in his adopted home state of Kentucky. At the Downs, Day was often so dominant that veteran horseplayers would complain — bettors would often wager so much money on horses with Day in the saddle that the payoff odds would decline.
In 1989, he set a North American record when he won eight of nine mounts in a single day at Arlington Park.
Religion and Retirement
Early in his career, he had serious substance abuse problems with both drugs and alcohol, but became a born-again Christian in the early 1980s. He has been involved with the Race Track Chaplaincy of America since his conversion, and is currently the racing industry's representative on the board of that organization.
After undergoing hip surgery that forced him to miss the Derby for the first time in 21 years, Day announced his retirement on August 3, 2005 after a 32-year career that saw him ride 8,804 winners, fourth on the all-time list, and ranks fourth behind John Velazquez (over $393 million), Mike E. Smith (over $317 million) and Javier Castellano (over $314 million) for prize money won, with his mounts earning nearly USD 298 million. He said he would retire and commit the rest of his life purely to spreading the Gospel.
Day and his family reside in the Lake Forest subdivision in Louisville, Kentucky.
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- Eisenberg, John (1996). The Longest Shot. John Eisenberg. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Privman, Jay (May 3, 1992). "KENTUCKY DERBY : Day Makes the Right Choice : Jockey: The man who passed up rides on Alysheba and Unbridled gets first Derby victory in 10 tries". The Los Angeles Times.
- LaMarra, Tom (April 23, 2014). "Day by Day". Bloodhorse. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Irwin, Barry (2016). Derby Innovator. Barry Irwin. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Drape, Joe (2001). The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, high stakes, and eternal hope. Joe Drape.
- Christine, Bill (November 8, 1989). "HORSE RACING : Maybe It's Time Easy Goer Gets a Different Rider". The Los Angeles Times.
- Moran, Paul (September 19, 1989). "Easy Goer Shows He Won't Easily Be Beaten". The Los Angeles Times.
- Van Dyke, Grace (October 21, 2013). "A Blessed Life: Pat Day on making peace with his sport & his faith". Horse Nation.
- McNamara, Ed (May 3, 2017). "Pat Day's career was complete when he finally won Kentucky Derby". Newsday. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Guild, The Jockeys' (1999). The History of Race Riding and the Jockeys' Guild. Turner Publishing Company - The Jockeys' Guild. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
- "Leading Breeders' Cup Jockey Stats". Breeders' Cup. October 21, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
- "All Time Leaders - Jockeys". Equibase. May 23, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
| Jockeys' Guild President
Tomey Jean Swan