Updated on 09/15/2011 12:20PM

Day does it on home turf

Four Footed Fotos
Pat Day became only the third jockey in North American history to win 8,000 races when he guided Camden Park to victory in Thursday's sixth race at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Pat Day became just the third jockey in North American racing history to win 8,000 races Thursday, hitting the milestone by winning the sixth race at Churchill Downs aboard Camden Park. He added another victory to his resume by winning the eighth race aboard Elite Mercedes. Both horses are trained by Elliott Walden.

The hard-fought one-length victory aboard Camden Park put Day in the same category with Laffit Pincay Jr., who through Wednesday had won 9,152 races, and Bill Shoemaker, who won 8,833.

Camden Park, owned by Mark Stanley, paid $3.60 as the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for entry-level allowance horses. The win came with Day's fourth of six mounts on a 10-race program.

"So many things are going through my mind right now," Day said minutes after his 8,000th win. "Mostly I'm thinking of Jan. 27, 1984," when he became a born-again Christian. "I know I am what I am because of the grace of God."

The afternoon started in disappointment for Day. His first mount, Dancin B B, finished a non-threatening fourth as the 8-5 favorite in the first race. His mount in the second, Ididarod Trail (3-1), made a run at the leaders before flattening out to finish third. His mount in the third, High Cascade, was the 6-5 favorite, but he had to settle for second after contesting the pace the entire way with eventual winner Devil Anse.

Day did not have a mount in the fourth or fifth. In the sixth, Camden Park got a great stalking trip before making the lead at the top of the stretch. Camden Park dug in to turn back Fair Trade, the 3-1 second choice, in a prolonged stretch drive.

"I thought by order of progression I might win it," said Day, noting the manner in which his previous mounts had improved from fourth to third to second.

Upon returning to the winner's circle, where an elaborate ceremony awaited him, Day was met by a loud ovation from his many fans in an ontrack crowd estimated at 7,500. Day's wife, Sheila, and daughter, Irene, surrounded him during the presentation, as did the entire Churchill jockey colony. At certain times, Day appeared to be overcome with emotion.

Walden said he was honored to be the trainer who gave Day his 8,000th win. Walden and Day have teamed together on many occasions, including with Menifee during the 1999 Triple Crown series.

"This is pretty special," said Walden, who gave Day a peck on the cheek before the jockey dismounted. "I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Calvin Borel, who rode Fair Trade, said he thought he had a solid chance to deny Day his 8,000th. "I ran up to him pretty good," said Borel. "But his horse kind of dug in pretty good. I've got to give it to him. It's a big, big milestone. Congratulations."

The fact Day reached the milestone at Churchill was appropriate, since it is where the 47-year-old jockey has won nearly 2,100 races, more than at any other track.

Day posted his 7,999th victory with his second-to-last mount here Sunday, then finished ninth in his only mount Monday aboard favored Traditionally in the Met Mile at Belmont Park. Day was idle Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We've been embraced by the fans and the community here, so it's special that my 8,000th came right here at Churchill Downs," he said.