On-track festivals attract more than 1,200; 350 decisions for Christ

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Race Track Chaplaincy of America, a Los Angeles-based ministry that travels to racetracks across the country, helped lead more than 350 horse-track workers and fans to the Lord at two festivals in the south.

More than 1,200 people attended the events at the Feb. 19 White Horse Family Festivals at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston and the Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans on Feb. 20. Organizers said nearly 30 percent of the attendees made decisions to follow Christ.

"There is no joy like leading someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and being a part of crusades like this," Pat Day, a Hall of Fame jockey who shared his testimony at the event, said in a news release. "This is head and shoulders above the joy of winning the Kentucky Derby. Everything pales when it's compared to winning souls."

Day retired in 2005 with a world record for purses won with nearly $300 million. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1992 aboard Lil E. Tee.

The Fairground Festival, held in the backstretch cafeteria, attracted so many workers an overflow area was set up outside. When Day called those making decisions to the altar, so many came they had to gather outside for counseling.

As a result, about 120 enrolled in an eight-week Alpha/Leadership program at their tracks following the two events.

The February crusades were the fourth and fifth of eight planned. In the first five, more than 600 people made decisions for Christ, 250 have enrolled in the follow-up program and at least 100 have graduated.

In addition to the message by Day, attendees were treated to free food, hygiene kits and other gifts. Children enjoyed pony rides, bounce houses, gifts and prizes. Raffle prizes were also distributed. Grammy-nominated musician Kevin Thornton performed.

The ministry program is funded though a grant from the Foursquare Foundation and private individuals. Other crusades were tentatively planned for at Arlington Park near Chicago and Belmont Park on Long Island, NY.  

The track chaplaincy program, founded in 1972, sanctions and oversees 80 chaplains who serve at 120 horse tracks and training/ breeding centers in the U.S., Canada and six other nations.