The Birmingham News and Birmingham Post-Herald article
May 16, 1992
by Carey Kinsolving
On Saturday morning before the Kentucky Derby, a security guard at Churchill Downs spotted Pat Day heading for the jockey’s room decked out in a double-breasted suit. “Are you preaching today?” said the guard.
“Yeah, we’re having a revival at Churchill Downs,” Day said.
A one-man revival. Moments after seeing Day win his first Derby on Lil E. Tee, millions of viewers heard what sounded like a preacher in high gear.
“Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus; all in God’s good time.”
A revival, yes. A preacher, no. Just Pat Day praising God.
For those who know Day, he seems to be in a constant state of revival. But it wasn’t always so.
In 1982, Day became the leading jockey in the country and went on a two-week alcohol- and drug-induced stupor to celebrate his achievement. “The feeling of success was so fleeting and so dissatisfying that I was disillusioned with life,” Day said.
Day said he began to wonder about his reason for living. His questioning and searching ended in a hotel room two years later.
“I fell on my face and wept and cried, and invited Jesus into my heart,” Day said. “At that moment I was delivered from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. It was gone.”
Although Day says he still struggles in other areas of life, his overwhelming desire is to please God.
Before 1984, Day thought Christianity was for “women, children and wimps. It wasn’t for a self-made man like myself,” Day said in a telephone interview from his home in the Louisville area.
When Day crossed the finish line he instantly quoted from the New Testament: “Romans 8:28, ‘All things work together for the good of those who love Jesus and are called according to his purpose.’ Thank you, Jesus. All in God’s good time.”
Day credits this bit of scripture with helping him put things in perspective after he had turned down rides on eventual Derby winners and finished second in the Derby three years in a row from 1988 to 1990.
“I came back after those races content, with the love and joy of Jesus in my heart,” Day said. “I had a bounce in my step, a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye.
“The press couldn’t believe it. The first year they just kind of looked at me, and they said, “’What’s with you?’”
The next year Day was expected to win the race with Easy Goer.
He didn’t, and the critics were on his case again. Day reached for Romans 8:28.
Before his conversion in 1984, Day said, he probably would have criticized his horse or his own performance. But now, with his new perspective, he could say: “It’s going to work out for my good and God’s glory – I’m happy. I tried hard; the horse ran hard; we didn’t win. Case closed.”
In Day’s third consecutive bridesmaid finish, Day said reporters were expecting him to blow up.
But one reporter who had seen him in his previous second-place finishes looked at him and said, “Romans 8:28, right?”
“You got it,” Day replied.
“How long are you going to keep saying that?” another reporter said.
“Until it stops working,” Day said.
Saturday, Day will ride Romans 8:28 again along with Lil E. Tee at the Preakness in his run for the second leg of the Triple Crown. But Day said to look for him on a different mount if Jesus returns before the race – “a white thoroughbred in the sky. That will be more fun than the Derby for sure.”