Pat Day recalls that the worst racetrack accident of his Hall of Fame career took place at Sportsman&rsquo;s Park in 1979, when he was 26 and still on the far side of national fame and fortune.&ldquo;My horse snapped his leg off going into the far turn and drove me into the ground,&rdquo; Day said this week from home in Louisville. &ldquo;Seven out of 10 horses in the field went down. Initially they thought I broke my neck, but fortunately that wasn&rsquo;t the case. Miraculously, all I had was a fractured skull and a broken bone in my hand. So by the time I woke up in the ambulance the possibility of a disabling injury was gone, and I didn&rsquo;t have to deal with it.&rdquo;Lucky seems too small a word to cover such an escape, but that&rsquo;s what Day was, unlike the hundreds of riders throughout the history of the sport who were never able to walk away from a seven&#45;horse crash, or a one&#45;horse stumble, or any of the other ways in which the human body can be ripped and torn in pursuit of a winning race.On Sunday across the land, Day will be among a stellar group of jockeys, both active and retired, who will engage with fans, sign autographs, and answer the phones in the first national fund&#45;raising telethon in support of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The telethon is being presented by TVG/Betfair from 1 to 7 p.m.The PDJF currently supports about 60 former riders whose careers ended in the blink of an eye, violently ushering in a new life fraught with the challenges of paralysis or permanently disabling injury.&ldquo;Riders know that when we walk in that paddock and throw a leg over a horse there&rsquo;s a possibility that we could hit the ground and a possibility that we won&rsquo;t be able to get up and walk off,&rdquo; Day said. &ldquo;We accept that. I guess the riders who have been so unfortunate to have had that happen look in the mirror and say, &lsquo;Well, that happened,&rsquo; and try to go on.&rdquo;Day, who retired in 2005 with 8,803 wins and purse earnings by his mounts of nearly $298 million, has spent much of his retirement working with racetrack chaplaincy organizations and welfare outreach. He often encounters riders who have been disabled by the job, and several will be on hand to answer the phones during the telethon on Sunday.&ldquo;For the most part they&rsquo;re upbeat, optimistic people who are fun to be around,&rdquo; Day said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure they&rsquo;d love to be able to get up and out of that chair, but they&rsquo;re appreciative of the PDJF, and of the time we take our of our schedules to do what we can to help raise funds. But it is mutual respect and admiration, and a real blessing to be associated with them.&rdquo;Among the disabled riders assisted by the PDJF is Gary Birzer, who was left paralyzed from the waist down at age 29 after an accident at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia 14 years ago. Last week, his brother, fellow jockey Alex Birzer, appeared on a panel at an international conference of racetrack superintendents hosted by Oaklawn Park.Birzer was joined on the panel by riders Jareth Loveberry and Gary Stevens, the Hall of Famer riding his first full Arkansas season this year. Stevens has been impressed with the communication between jockeys and management when it comes to track condition.&ldquo;There&rsquo;s constant back&#45;and&#45;forth, especially when the weather is like it is right now,&rdquo; Stevens said Friday morning as the big Midwestern storm moved through. &ldquo;Alex Birzer is on the track committee, which in my experience is very rare for a jockey to be in that position.&rdquo;Harsh weather brings constant challenges to managements over whether to run or cancel racing. Too often the burden has been placed on jockeys, who then catch the blame for &ldquo;refusing to ride,&rdquo; in the corporate parlance, when a racing card is lost. Stevens hopes the Oaklawn philosophy spreads nationwide.&ldquo;We had some frozen tracks here this meet,&rdquo; Stevens said. &ldquo;The last time I dealt with that was at Portland Meadows, where I rode from 1980 to &rsquo;83. Management said it wasn&rsquo;t frozen, so me and Gary Baze took a hammer and a screwdriver out onto the track. Gary hammered the screwdriver about an inch into the surface before the plastic handle shattered. A big chuck of frozen dirt came up, and we said, &lsquo;Does that answer your question?&rsquo; &rdquo;***For all their faults and economic disadvantages, small market tracks like Portland Meadows &ndash; and Hazel Park &ndash; remain a vital component to the overall health of the sport. The abrupt closure of Hazel Park this week just as the participants of the upcoming Thoroughbred meet were settling in was a shock to the system, and an indictment of the protection that honest investment should provide. Apparently, no one knew the track was being sold to non&#45;racing interests.Racing around a five&#45;eighths bullring began at Hazel Park in 1949, and for a long period the track offered both Thoroughbred and Standardbred meets. The only time the track enjoyed national attention was in July of 1977, when a New York apprentice named Steve Cauthen came to town. Cauthen was shut out in five rides, but the track handled a cool $2 million for the one and only time in its history.