William Reed loves being a Thoroughbred owner and dreams of again having one of the nation’s best racehorses. And although Pat Day retired from being a jockey in 2005, he still keeps up with sport’s big events.
But it wasn’t racing that brought Day to Reed’s farm in south Kansas City on Saturday.
Day was there to help with a clinic for youth interested in horses and to help Reed promote his new book, “The Pulse of Hope,” a memoir detailing how Reed went from growing up in poverty to prosperity as a heart surgeon.
While in town Day had an opportunity to see Perfect Drift, the most successful Thoroughbred ever owned by Reed. In 50 career starts, Perfect Drift posted 11 wins and 32 top-three finishes while earning $4,714,213. His career highlights included third-place finishes in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race he qualified to run for five straight years.
Day and Reed recalled Day riding Perfect Drift to victory in the 2003 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. At the time, Reed called it Perfect Drift’s best win.
“The race set up perfectly for Perfect Drift,” Day said. “He gave a very good effort.”
Reed said one of the reasons he liked Day to ride his horses was that Day rarely used his whip to encourage the horse he was riding.
“I was blessed with natural ability,” said Day, whose 8,803 career wins rank fourth on the career list for most victories by jockeys. “I didn’t need to use it for horses to give me their best. Horses just seemed to want to run for me.”
Perfect Drift went into retirement in 2008 and used to spend much of his time at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., or on Reed’s farm, but Reed decided that Perfect Drift was bored and found him a job that allowed him to return to the track.
Perfect Drift became a stable pony, and one of his first assignments was accompanying California Chrome to the starting gate before this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Perhaps one day Perfect Drift can lead one of Reed’s horses to the starting gate in the Derby. Reed, 87, said the group of yearlings that he is raising could turn out to be very successful in racing.
“I still do it for the love of the sport,” Reed said. “I would love to have another horse run in the Kentucky Derby.”
| Tom Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org