LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day is retiring, bringing to an end one of horse racing’s greatest and most lucrative careers.

Day, who won the 1992 Kentucky Derby aboard Lil E. Tee, has 8,804 victories and is the career money leader with purses totaling $297,941,912. His 32-year racing career comes to a close just months after he returned to racing following hip surgery.

Day’s agent, Doc Danner, said the 51-year-old jockey will make an official announcement Thursday morning at Churchill Downs. Track spokesman John Asher confirmed a news conference was scheduled and said Day would discuss his future.

“He’s just at a plateau in his life where the Lord’s calling him off to do other things,” Danner told The Associated Press.

Day made the decision while convalescing alone in a cabin along the Kentucky River this week, Danner said Wednesday. Day’s decision came after he missed his first Kentucky Derby in 21 years, then cut back on his riding schedule this winter and spring.

Fellow Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey described Day as a “great rider, great human being.” Bailey, preparing to ride at Saratoga Race Course, said Day regularly helped younger riders with advice about racing as well as life.

“It didn’t matter if it was a fast track or he was knee deep in mud, he’d come back and say, I love my job,”‘ Bailey said. “He would always bring us up, and in this game, it’s not always easy to keep your chin up.”

Day finished runner-up four times in the Derby. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, and ranks fourth in career victories. He won 23 races this spring at Churchill Downs, lifting his career total at the track to a record 2,481.

After surgery in March to replace torn cartilage, Day resumed racing in mid-May and earned his first stakes win about a month later, guiding Two Trail Sioux to a start-to-finish victory in the Grade II $330,000 Fleur de Lis.

His last race was the $1 million Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park on July 17.

Last summer, Day rode only weekends and select weekdays at Saratoga, using the rest of his time to raise money and awareness for the Race Track Chaplaincy program.

AP-ES-08-03-05 1639EDT


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