Pat Day was born on Oct. 13, 1953 in Brush, Colo. Growing up, Day dreamed of becoming a rodeo cowboy. His dream of making a living riding horses came true, but not as he might have expected. Day had his first Thoroughbred winner in 1973 at Prescott Downs in Arizona and became one of America’s most successful Thoroughbred jockeys of all time.
Day established numerous records while based in Kentucky, where his is the all-time leading rider at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland. While riding in Illinois, he once had eight winners in one afternoon at Arlington Park, and at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas he won 12 consecutive riding titles.
Day’s accomplishments in the Breeders’ Cup include 12 wins and 17 seconds from 117 mounts. He retired as the leading money-winning Breeders’ Cup jockey with earnings of $23 million.
Day’s most important mounts included Hall of Famers Lady’s Secret and Easy Goer, as well as Wild Again (the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic winner), Summer Squall, Tabasco Cat, Unbridled, Flanders, Tank’s Prospect, Louis Quatorze, and Lil E. Tee.
Day won the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee, the Preakness in 1985 (Tank’s Prospect), 1990 (Summer Squall), 1994 (Tabasco Cat), 1995 (Timber Country), and 1996 (Louis Quatorze), and the Belmont in 1989 (Easy Goer), 1994 (Tabasco Cat), and 2000 (Commendable). He also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1984 (Wild Again), 1990 (Unbridled), 1998 (Awesome Again), and 1999 (Cat Thief).
Other notable wins by Day include the Travers Stakes (4), Jockey Club Gold Cup (3), Blue Grass Stakes (4), Woodward Stakes, Florida Derby, Hollywood Gold Cup, Canadian International Stakes (2), Pimlico Special, Del Mar Handicap, and Kentucky Oaks (2). Day won the Canadian Triple Crown in 1991 with Hall of Famer Dance Smartly.
Day retired in 2005 with career earnings of $297,912,019, which ranks No. 1 all time. He ranks fourth in career victories with 8,803. Day led North American riders in wins six times and earnings twice. He won the Eclipse Award in 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1991, and was presented the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1985.
Pat Day was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1991.