Year-end honors create a subplot to Cup drama

LOUISVILLE, KY. — LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Pat Day was scurrying to the jockeys' quarters after riding his third winner on the day's card at Churchill Downs.

It was the day before the Breeders' Cup and the competition was nondescript, but the results spoke for themselves.


Day dominated the action at Churchill Downs, just as he does most days at what Kentuckians refer to as "The Big Oval."

Breeders' Cup XI shouldn't be any different.


In the past decade, Day has won 20 riding titles at Churchill Downs. He definitely has the home-court advantage today when the stakes are much higher on the $10 million championship card.

With the absence of standout 3-year-old colt Holy Bull, racing's Horse of the Year title won't be settled today in what is traditionally the sport's definitive year-end event.

That honor already has been unofficially bestowed on Holy Bull, who is sitting out the card after scoring devastating victories in four straight Grade I stakes.

But jockey and trainer leaders could be decided. Day has a chance to evaporate Mike Smith's $2 million lead in the national jockey standings.

Smith's New York rival, Jerry Bailey, said yesterday that he feels nobody can beat Smith. But the purses are so high and Day's lineup of horseflesh so impressive that he could move past Smith.

"I'm very well-mounted, to say the least," said Day, who will ride four of the seven favorites, including Flanders (Juvenile Fillies); Timber Country (Juvenile Colts); Paradise Creek (Turf), and Tabasco Cat (Classic).

Winning purses from those four races would amount to $3.6 million, more than enough to negate Smith's lead, even if Smith's two favored mounts, Sky Beauty in the Distaff and Lure in the Mile, come through and compile winnings of $1.4 million.

Both jockeys will ride in six of the seven races and for purses totaling $9 million. How they split that up could decide the national rider championship, which is based largely on their mounts' year-end earnings.


Day will miss only one Breeders' Cup race -- the Mile. "I just figure that when the Lord brought me together to ride these horses, he figured I needed a break somewhere on the card," Day said.

Smith had been scheduled to ride in all seven, but his mount Noraquilon in the Juvenile Fillies bruised her heels and will skip the race.

Day not only has the advantage of riding in his own backyard and on higher-quality horses, but Smith received a couple of unlucky breaks in the post position draws.

Two of his mounts, Lure and Devil His Due, the second choice in the Classic, drew unfavorable 14 post positions on the extreme outside of the fields.

Smith said that going for the title "is not something I'm even thinking about. I'm just trying to do my job and concentrating on the horses I ride."

The other three or four top U.S. jockeys would have to produce upsets today to challenge Smith and Day.


Chris McCarron is fourth in the standings, about $5 million in earnings behind Smith. He has five Breeders' Cup mounts, including one on favored Soviet Problem in the Sprint.

He gave up the mount on Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin in order to ride Best Pal in the $3 million Classic.

"I hate to desert a Derby winner," McCarron said, "but after he got beat so badly in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I thought I would have a better chance in the Classic with Best Pal.

"So I took off the horse and [trainer] Nick Zito was great about it. He called me up, said he understood and that the mount on Go For Gin was mine anytime I wanted it back."

McCarron, like Kent Desormeaux, who is in fifth place in the standings, lost a potentially good Breeders' Cup Distaff mount when Dispute was declared out yesterday after developing a painful abscess in her foot.

Desormeaux, who will ride in two Breeders' Cup stakes, missed the Distaff after his mount, Lakeway, became sick and was forced out.


In the national trainers' standings, D. Wayne Lukas is $260,690 ,, behind leader Bill Mott and could forge ahead today. Lukas is running eight horses in the Breeders' Cup; Mott has four.


.. .. .. .. .. .. Earnings of .. Breeders'

Name ... .. .. .. '94 mounts ... .. mounts .. Favorites

Mike Smith ... .. $13,447,263 .. .. .. . 6 .. Sky Beauty, Lure

Pat Day ... .. .. $11,395,195 .. .. .. . 6 .. Flanders, Timber Country,


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... Paradise Creek, Tabasco Cat

BTC Gary Stevens . .. $10,383,763 .. .. .. . 6 .. None

Chris McCarron ... $9,584,549 .. .. .. . 5 .. Soviet Problem

Kent Desormeaux .. $9,268,753 .. .. .. . 2 .. None

Note: Eddie Delahoussaye, ninth in the standings, rides

Hollywood Wildcat, co-favorite in the Distaff.