2018 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Drayden Van Dyke
The 2014 Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, Drayden Van Dyke was unanimously voted TVG Breakthrough Jockey of the Year for 2018. The award is voted on by a panel of experts who select a Jockey of the Week for JockeyTalk360.com based on weekly riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
It was a notable year for Van Dyke as evidenced by his annual statistics, but also due to several career milestones, including winning his first Breeders’ Cup race, earning his first Del Mar riding title, and posting seven wins in a single race card.
In 2018, Van Dyke won his first career Breeders’ Cup race with Stormy Liberal in the Turf Sprint (G1), defeating post-time favorite World of Trouble and Irad Ortiz, Jr. He was also second in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) with Catapult, a half-length behind Expert Eye and Frankie Dettori, who was recently honored as the 2018 Longines World’s Best Jockey.
This was also the year that Van Dyke earned his first riding title outside of Los Alamitos, as he swept the riding titles at both Del Mar meets this year with 42 wins in the summer and 17 in the fall.
During Del Mar’s summer meet, Van Dyke tied a unique record. On August 19, he won seven races on one card, tying a record at the track for most wins in a day set by Victor Espinoza. Van Dyke had eight mounts on the card and finished second in his only loss of the day.
Van Dyke won 29 stakes races in 2018, over twice his 2017 total, and nearly doubled his annual stakes earnings, with $5,786,047 earned this year. Among graded stakes races, he won 17 graded events, seven more than 2017, and earned $4.6 million.
In addition to his Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint win, he won a second Grade 1 race: the Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita in March with City of Light ($4.00). City of Light also brought him a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). He won multiple graded races with Stormy Liberal, Catapult, Catalina Cruiser and Marley’s Freedom.
Van Dyke’s statistics improved across the board in 2018. In 2018, he won over twice as many races as in 2017, with 144 victories in 643 starts in 2018 compared to 61 wins in 404 starts the previous year. Van Dyke also doubled his earnings in 2018, from $5 million in 2017 to $10.5 million in 2018, bringing his career earnings to over $31 million.
Statistics used for Breakthrough Jockey of the Year are from January 1 through December 2, 2018.
TVG is a television channel dedicated to horse racing, operating alongside an online betting network active in 35 U.S. states. TVG offers live racing content, handicapping and race analysis on two television channels available through cable, online, or streaming devices. TVG is owned by FanDuel Group, the U.S. Division of Paddy Power Betfair.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Breakthrough Jockey of the Year is selected by a vote of representatives of TVG, America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Turf Publicists of America and Racing Stats & Info on Twitter.
2017 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Tyler Gaffalione
Tyler Gaffalione — the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider who this year stamped himself as a major player on the national scene — is the recipient of JockeyTalk360.com‘s 2017 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year Award, presented by Betfair/TVG.
The 23-year-old Gaffalione had truly a breakthrough season, winning 271 races — including 20 stakes — and more than $10.28 million in purses with a month still left in 2017.
“Tyler has obviously had an amazing year,” Lowich said. “He has proven himself to be one of the top riders in the country and it’s a privilege for Betfair/TVG to be able to present him with this award.”
Gaffalione had a fine post-apprenticeship year in 2016 with 208 victories and almost $6.5 million in purse earnings. But this year he made the significant leap to becoming a top rider outside what has been a year-round Florida base, riding two days a week at Saratoga and the five-day Kentucky Downs meet (winning a pair of $150,000 stakes) while still winning the Gulfstream Park summer-fall riding title. His five graded-stakes victories include the Fair Grounds’ Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Memorial with Enterprising, Turfway Park’s $500,000 Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) on Fast and Accurate and Belmont’s Matron Stakes (G3) on Happy Like a Fool.
2016 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Flavien Prat
Flavien Prat joined the ranks of racing’s elite riders with 165 wins — seven in Grade I races — and more than $12.8 million in purses through Dec. 8 during a season that included his first Breeders’ Cup victory aboard Obviously in the Turf Sprint. The French-born Prat shattered his big 2015 season, when his 85 wins and $5.2 million in purses stamped him as a jockey to watch. Prat’s 14 graded-stakes victories included Grade I scores aboard Lord Nelson (two), Avenge, Taris, The Pizza Man and Illuminant, as well as important triumphs on Hoppertunity, Bolo, Vyjack, Shane’s Girlfriend, Rocket Heat and Dreamologist as his burgeoning business sent him around the country and Canada from his Southern California base.
“This is an honor, and I’m very proud to be recognized by JockeyTalk360,” Prat said. “Thanks to all those that helped me with my success, thanks to the voters for this great award.”
2015 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Florent Geroux
Geroux gave the voting panel of experts an impressive set of statistics to consider in their decision. The 29 year old native of France improved upon his ranking as the 62ndleading rider in wins in 2014 with 143 victories to a total of 175 wins in 2015, moving him up to 32nd place for that category. He made even greater strides in total earnings with his best year ever. In 2015 he earned $10,233,677, an increase of $4,407,646 from 2014.
The majority of that increase came from his impressive stakes earnings in 2015. Geroux won a total of 27 stakes including the Arlington Million, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. The native of France was exceptional on the turf all season winning some of the year’s biggest races on the grass and capturing the riding title at the short but lucrative all grass meeting at Kentucky Downs by a wide margin.
“It’s an honor to win this award,” said Geroux. “I really want to thank all the owners and trainers who gave me an opportunity to ride this season, not to mention the exceptional horses that ran so well for me. They were the ones that made this possible and made for such an exceptional year. My agent, Doug Bredar, and I worked hard all year and now looking back after the big wins and awards like this it seems like the hard work clearly paid off.”