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Pat Day to Conduct “What A Difference a Day Makes” Track Tour


June 18, 2004     E-mail this page to a friend!

Pat Day thanking God after winning the inaugural Breeders' Cup Classic in 1984 on Wild Again.

Photo Courtesy NTRA/Breeders' Cup Ltd.


    Pat Day, whose remarkable 31-year riding career is a part of horse racing history, will conduct a “What a Difference a Day Makes” tour of tracks this summer to race, greet fans in track promotional events, and share career highlights and the single day that changed his life during accompanying fund raising events to aid Race Track Chaplaincy of America Chaplains  

     “The primary purpose of this tour is obedience to the Great Commission, i.e. to go into all the world and preach the good news,” said Day, quoting Mark 16:15. “We also want to meet and greet racing fans and encourage and uplift our chaplains. We also hope to prayfully seek support, financial and otherwise, for the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ to the racing industry.”

     Day, a long time officer and the official RTCA Industry Spokesperson, will conduct the tour as his riding schedule permits during the Saratoga season. Beginning in mid-July and ending when he returns to racing full time at the October 8 opening of Keeneland, he plans to visit at least 12 tracks. He will appear primarily at tracks at which RTCA Chaplains currently serve or the organization hopes to implement chaplaincies.

     “Our vision is to have a chaplain at every race meet, not only in the U.S., but abroad,” he said. “We’re expanding internationally and already have a chaplaincy program in place at Woodbine, Canada. We are also in the process of establishing outreach ministries in Jamacia and Puerto Rico.”  

     Since winning his first race at Prescott Downs in Arizona in 1973, Day has become the all time leader in purses won ($290 million) and is the leading active rider in victories, with 8,686 through June 14. He ranks third in all time victories to the late Bill Shoemaker (8,833) and the retired Laffit Pincay Jr. (9,530). A member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 1992, Day has won four Eclipse Awards as the nation’s Outstanding Jockey and nine national riding titles. He has also won nine Triple Crown races and is the only rider to ride in all 20Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. He has won 12 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races, including four Classics.

      During the inaugural Classic at Hollywood Park in 1984, he won a narrow three-horse photo and survived a foul claim to take the world’s first $3 million race aboard Wild Again. In a photo that became the symbol of the early Breeders’ Cup races, Day memorialized his relationship with Christ when he raised his helmet to thank God.

      Day, who rode baby bulls in “Lil Britches” rodeos near his home in Eagle Colorado as a child, had become a born-again Christian earlier that year in a Miami Florida motel room after listening to television evangelist, Jimmy Swaggert. He credits the decision with overcoming an addiction to cocaine and revolutionizing his career.

   “For me, Christianity is not a way of life,” he said. “It is life.”

     Day rode at Prairie Meadows on June 15 in conjunction with the track’s RTCA Chaplain, Dennis Luft. On July 20, he will officially kick off the tour at River Downs, where he will race, take part in special promotions and speak at an on-track, fundraising event that evening to benefit track Chaplain Forest Casey. Day said that during the tour he will return his mount fees to the horses' “scheduled” riders and invite all backstretch workers to hear him speak free of charge. 

    Dr. Enrique Torres, RTCA’s Executive Director, said he thanked God for Day’s decision to tour. “Pat has been appointed by the Lord to be His ambassador, representing Christ and RTCA at racetracks around the world,” he said. “We thank Pat and we congratulate him for accepting this call from God.”

    The RTC sanctions and oversees 48 chaplains who serve at 76 North American tracks and training centers.  Tour arrangements will be made through RTCA's home office at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA. For more information contact Rev. Ed Donnally at 310-419-1640, edonnally@racetrackchaplaincy.org.