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WILMORE, Ky. — Pat Day, award-winning jockey and member of the Horse Racing Hall of Fame, visited Asbury University and shared his testimony at a Chapel service on Monday, urging students to keep their eyes on Jesus.

Born Patrick Alan Day in 1953 in the small ranching community of Brush, Colo., Day grew up watching rodeos and wanted to be a professional cowboy. In 1972 he moved to Prescott, Ariz., where in less than a year later he became the track’s leading rider.

Award-winning jockey Pat Day spoke in Chapel about the birth of his faith.“To be a leading rider anywhere months after beginning your career is huge,” Day said. And such successes followed Day one after the other. Day has ridden winners of U.S. Triple Crown races nine times, won the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeder’s Cup Distaff and is the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course.

And yet, despite his accomplishments early in life and despite securing the title of leading rider in America, Day admitted to students that he was lost.

“I was hollow and empty,” Day said.

He grew up in a Christian home — although he said that only meant going to church every Sunday — and when he was 13 a neighbor led him through the sinner’s prayer. But that experience did not change Day’s relationship with God, as early into his career he began to abuse drugs and alcohol.

“When I was 13 and I asked Christ into my life, he entered, but I put him in the backroom of my heart,” Day said. As his successful career went on, he was still searching for more and never seemed to find satisfaction.

“I came to the startling conclusion that success would not satisfy my life,” Day said. 

At a hotel in 1984, in the middle of the night, Day began to watch a Jimmy Swaggart crusade.

“I felt the presence of the Living God in my hotel room,” Day recounted.  “I got down on my knees and prayed and wept.” It was then that he — as he put it — took Christ out of the backroom and put Him on the throne of his heart. “I acknowledged that God was the only thing that could satisfy my life. I was a new creation.”

He told students that they had to keep their eyes on Jesus if they were to ever find satisfaction and live the abundant life Christ talks about in John 10:10.

“It was an awesome message,” said Haley Moore, a freshman who attended the Chapel service. “He really made me think about the fact that we are constantly searching for satisfaction in the wrong places, when we can only find that in God.”

Day retired from racing in 2005 after a hip surgery and since then has traveled around the country to share his testimony.

“I have a renewed passion to go and tell people about Jesus and see their lives changed,” Day said.

— story by Jorge Castorena ’16