08/03/2005 12:00AM

Pat Day retires

Pat Day, the all-time leading money earner among jockeys, has retired from riding.

Pat Day, the all-time leading money earner among jockeys, has retired from riding, his agent, Doc Danner, confirmed Wednesday. It is expected that Day will make his retirement official at a press conference at Churchill Downs on Thursday.

"He is retiring," Danner said by phone Wednesday morning. "The Lord has advised him to move on and to help advance his chaplaincy backside program and promote Christianity."

Day, 51, did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

Day became the sport's all-time leading money earner among jockeys when he won the Sword Dancer at Saratoga in August 2002. He retires with total earnings of $297,912,019, according to Equibase. Day won 8,803 races, fourth-best on the all-time list.

Day missed a good portion of this year after he had surgery in March to repair torn cartilage in his hip. The surgery forced Day to end his streak of riding in 21 straight Kentucky Derbies from 1984-2004. Day won his only Derby aboard Lil E. Tee in 1992.

"It was a little bit of a surprise to go through all that rehab to come back 110 percent, but he wasn't feeling the glory of winning like he used to," Danner said. "He felt uneasy. That's why he went on a sabbatical. He's made me a better person, and he'll be a good spokesperson for the Lord."

Day was a four-time Eclipse Award winner and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1991. In addition to his Derby win, Day won the Preakness five times and the Belmont three times. He has won 12 Breeders' Cup races, second behind Jerry Bailey. His Breeders' Cup earnings of $23,033,360 lead all jockeys in that series.