Patrick Alan "Pat" Day was born in Brush, Colo. and early on tried his hand at rodeo bull riding on the local circuit. It was - by his own admission - not a successful career move.
His dreams took him in a different and immensely profitable direction when he started riding thoroughbreds, chalking up his first win in 1973 at Prescott Downs, Ariz. Unhampered by the weight issues with which so many jockeys struggle, Day quickly climbed the ranks in the Midwest. By the late 70's he was at the top of the national standings and began his run as leading rider at Churchill Downs, one that may never be equaled. However, the flagrant excesses of fame and fortune threatened his personal life and reputation on and off the track.
Day has often spoken of the night in the early 80's when his life changed forever. Alone and sleeping fitfully in a Florida hotel room, feeling emotionally empty and physically burnt up, he awakened to a televangelism program running in the early hours. The message found its mark, and Day left that hotel a changed, he says "born again," man. His newfound Christian faith profoundly altered his personal life and outlook and enhanced his natural professionalism and skill on the track.
His racing career over the next three decades reads like a jockey’s textbook on success. Day won the heralded Kentucky Derby with longshot Lil E. Tee in 1992 - one of his nine winning individual Triple Crown winning mounts, that include such greats as Summer Squall, Tank's Prospect and Louis Quatorze. He is the top money winning jockey in Breeders Cup history, riding Unbridled, Wild Again, Cat Thief, and Awesome Again to wins in the Breeders Cup Classic and is the only jockey to have ridden in the first 21 years of the event.
In 2005, Day had hip surgery that forced him to miss the Derby for the first time in 21 years. After a brief return to racing, Day did some personal soul searching at a cabin retreat and made the decision to retire and devote himself to his spiritual calling. On August 3, 2005, Day traded in his tack for a new position as industry representative and ambassador for the Racetrack Chaplaincy. He now divides his time enjoying his family and home near Louisville, Kentucky and spreading the Gospel at tracks, colleges, and churches worldwide.
Day has not lost his competitive edge, however, as in October 2008 he returned to Santa Anita Park to ride in the widely anticipated "Legends" race, reuniting him with his old rivals and friends among the jockeys' retired elite.
Day's professional honors include four Eclipse Awards and induction into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in 1991. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1985 and the Mike Venizia Memorial Award in 1995 for “extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.” His superlative career reflects his prodigious success, tempered with humility, compassion, and honor at the highest level of the game.