On January 23, 1994, jockey Pat Day achieved a major milestone in his impressive racing career: While riding Miss Popsnorkle at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Day won his 6,000th race. In doing so, Day became the 10th Thoroughbred jockey to win 6,000 races during his career. Day went on to win two additional races that same day.
Day didn’t always know that riding racehorses would be his career. Born in Colorado, he wrestled during high school and went on to try bull riding locally after graduating. Eventually he began riding racehorses, where he found his niche.
The immensely talented Day began his career with his first win in 1973. Naturally small and lightweight, Day was also strong but patient. Day continued to win races, becoming a nationally renowned jockey by the end of the 1970s. Substance abuse threatened Day’s career, but in the 1980s Day proclaimed that he was a born-again Christian and overcame his substance abuse problem.
From there, Day’s career continued to accelerate. He rode famed horses such as Unbridled, Cat Thief, Summer Squall, Tabasco Cat, Menifee, and Easy Goer. Day won 12 Breeders’ Cup races in 112 rides, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic 4 times. He also won nine Triple Crown races, including one Kentucky Derby, five Preakness Stakes, and three Belmont Stakes.
Though Day become the 10th jockey to win 6,000 races in 1994, he exceeded that achievement in 1997 when he became the 4th rider to ever win 7,000 races. Day would top that accomplishment again in May of 2001 when he won his 8,000th race at Churchill Downs. He later retired with 8,803 victories and total earnings of $297,941,912.
Day earned many prestigious awards for his incredible racing career. He won the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1991, and was also inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1991. Thanks to his many victories, Day is the all-time leading rider at both Keeneland and Churchill Downs. Day won the 1985 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, and in 1995 he won the Mike Venizia Memorial Award for sportsmanship and citizenship.
Day retired from racing on August 3, 2005 after a hip surgery caused him to miss riding in the Kentucky Derby. The 2005 Derby would have been Day’s 21st consecutive Derby ride. Day retired to his home in Kentucky, but in October of 2008 he rode in the “Legends” race at Santa Anita Park designed to bring retired jockeys back to the saddle one more time.
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Original Source: Legendary Jockey Pat Day’s Horseracing Career