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Feb 06, 2015

Derby Trial renamed to honor Pat Day and moved


Louisville, KY ( - Churchill Downs announced Friday that the historic Derby Trial has been renamed to honor Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and will be run on the Kentucky Derby program.

Churchill Downs' spring meeting begins Saturday, April 25 and will have 38 days of racing concluding on Saturday, June 27. The meet is highlighted by the 141st running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, May 1 and the 141st $2 million Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, May 2.

The Derby Trial was the traditional opening day stakes, but will now be known as the $200,000 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Day won a record 2,482 races at the track, including 156 stakes, from 1980-2005.

"There's no better way for Churchill Downs to show its appreciation and honor Pat Day - a legendary jockey, great ambassador of horse racing, pillar in the Louisville community and a man known for his devout faith - than to pay tribute with a race named in his honor on Kentucky Derby Day, America's greatest day of racing," said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. "We're thrilled to salute one of our most beloved individuals and role models."

The new opening day feature will be the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, $100,000 William Walker, which is named to honor the riding great from the 19th century who is best known for guiding Dan Swigert's Baden-Baden to a two- length victory in the 1877 Kentucky Derby at the age of 17 for eventual Hall of Fame trainer Edward Dudley Brown.

"We've been kicking around the idea of moving the Derby Trial to Kentucky Derby Day for a couple of years now because the race is clearly not a significant step to the Derby anymore with the way horsemen train their horses today," said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs Racetrack's Director of Racing and Racing Secretary.

"A sprint for 3-year-olds is really the only stakes category that we don't have covered on Oaks and Derby Days," Huffman said. "We think horsemen will appreciate this spot for sprinting 3-year-olds."

The two featured stakes for older thoroughbreds during the meeting will both be conducted on Saturday, June 13, the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at 1 1/8 miles for older colts and geldings, and the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares.

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