11/10/2005 12:00AM

'Routinely spectacular' Day gets his day

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Horsephotos
Pat Day, right, gets congratulations from Gary Stevens last August at Saratoga on Day's retirement.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs is hosting "Pat's Day" on Saturday in honor of Pat Day, the Hall of Fame jockey who rode his final race July 17 and officially announced his retirement Aug. 4 at Churchill.

Day, 52, enjoyed a storybook riding career that began in 1973. He is racing's all-time earnings leader with more than $297 million in purses. He won 8,803 races, fourth-most in history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. He won the Eclipse Award for top jockey four times (1984, '86, '87, '91). He holds virtually every major record at tracks where he rode regularly. He won 9 Triple Crown races and 12 Breeders' Cup races.

Day's records at Churchill are particularly impressive. In 26 years of riding at Churchill, he set virtually every riding record, including wins (2,481), stakes wins (155), meet titles (34), and most wins on one card (7). He also won the 1992 Kentucky Derby at Churchill on Lil E. Tee.

The Churchill media guide slyly states that Day was "routinely spectacular" at his home track.

Day already is well into his new career as a spokesman and activist for the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, and he recently told Daily Racing Form that he is "unequivocally very comfortable and confident" in his decision to retire.

"I truly believe that what I heard from God is the right thing to do," he said. "I have no notions of getting back into the saddle. None whatsoever."

The agenda for Pat's Day (all times Eastern):

10-11 a.m.: Pat Day to be the guest of honor at a VIP reception breakfast and art show in the Turf Club foyer.

11 a.m.: Gates open. Vouchers for a Pat Day commemorative poster will be given to the first 7,500 fans through the gate (vouchers can be redeemed after race 4). First post is 12:40 p.m.

Noon: Photographs of Day and the entire jockey colony to be taken in the winner's circle.

After race 2: Winner's circle ceremony and video. Gift presentation to Day from Churchill president Steve Sexton.

2:15-6 p.m.: Day autograph session near Gate 10.

After race 9: Sheila Day, Pat's wife, presents the trophy to winning connections of the Mrs. Revere.

6:30-10 p.m.: Roast and career celebration, "What a difference a Day makes," in the Triple Crown room (tickets available; call 502-636-4400). Dinner begins at 7:30 and the roast at 8:30.

Day at a glance

* Oct. 13, 1953: Born in Brush, Colo.

* July 29, 1973: Rides first winner, Forblunged, at Prescott Downs in Arizona.

* November 1980: Wins his first of 34 riding titles at Churchill Downs by leading the fall meet.

* Dec. 31, 1982: Ends year with 399 wins, the first of six times to lead North American jockeys.

* Jan. 27, 1984: Commits his life to Christianity.

* May 5, 1984: Rides in first of a record 21 straight runnings of the Kentucky Derby (Vanlandingham, finishing 16th).

* June 20, 1984: Sets a Churchill record by riding seven winners from eight mounts.

* Nov. 10, 1984: Rides Wild Again to a dramatic upset in the first Breeders' Cup Classic at Hollywood Park.

* March 1985: Honored by his peers at Santa Anita with the George Woolf Memorial Award for high standards in personal and professional conduct.

* May 18, 1985: Guides Tank's Prospect to a narrow victory at Pimlico, the first of his five wins in the Preakness Stakes and nine in Triple Crown races.

* March 3, 1987: Day and his wife, Sheila, who married in 1979, have their first and only child, daughter Irene.

* June 10, 1989: Foils the Triple Crown bid of Sunday Silence by winning the Belmont aboard arch rival Easy Goer, whom Day calls the best horse he ever rode.

* Sept. 13, 1989: Wins with eight of nine mounts at Arlington Park to set a one-day North American record.

* Aug. 8, 1991: Inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

* October 1991: Rides a record 45 winners at the Keeneland fall meet, one of 22 times he leads Keeneland.

* 1991: Honored with fourth and last Eclipse Award as top jockey (also 1984, 1986, 1987).

* May 2, 1992: Wins the Kentucky Derby aboard 16-1 shot Lil E. Tee, his only Derby winner from 22 mounts. He also had four second-place finishes.

* October 1995: Announces he no longer will ride winters at Oaklawn Park - where he won 12 riding titles and was the career leading jockey - to move his tack to Gulfstream Park.

* June 6, 1996: At Churchill Downs, he carries the Olympic torch as it makes its way to Atlanta for the Summer Games.

* Aug. 25, 1997: Rides Bay Harbor at Saratoga for win No. 7,000.

* October 2000: Honored by the National Turf Writers' Association with the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing.

* June 10, 2000: Rides Commendable to an 18-1 victory in the Belmont Stakes for his last Triple Crown victory.

* Dec. 31, 2000: Ends year by leading all North American jockeys in earnings for the second straight season ($18.1 million in 1999, $17.4 million in 2000).

* May 31, 2001: Rides Camden Park at Churchill for career win No. 8,000.

* Oct. 27, 2001: Rides Unbridled Elaine to win the BC Distaff, his last of 12 Breeders' Cup wins.

* Aug. 10, 2002: Rides With Anticipation to win the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, allowing him to pass Chris McCarron as the all-time earnings leader with more than $264 million.

* June 18, 2005: Rides Two Trail Sioux to win the Fleur de Lis at Churchill for his final stakes win.

* July 10, 2005: Rides his 8,803rd and final winner, Ay Caramba, in the fifth race at Churchill.

* July 17, 2005: Has his final mount, finishing second on Two Trail Sioux in the Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.

* Aug. 4, 2005: Officially announces his retirement.