Los Angeles Times

By John Cherwa


Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. And remember, your betting should not define your year.

As we sit here wondering when the CHRB will ever post its stewards’ minutes from the long-forgotten Los Alamitos thoroughbred meeting, we thought we would bring back our occasional feature on personalities in racing.

There is no doubt that Drayden Van Dyke has, along with Flavien Prat, taken over as the top young jockeys at Santa Anita. At 24, he gets a lot of the best mounts and has emerged as the first call for trainer Bob Baffert, when Mike Smith isn’t riding a Baffert horse. In fact, Drayden was Justify’s original jockey.

As we do every once in a while, we thought we would ask him seven questions not about horse racing.

So, here’s our Q and A with Drayden.

What’s your favorite TV show that you are currently watching?

Every new movie that comes out, I like to go see it. But, like a TV show, they have so many new series nowadays that you can get hooked on. There is a new one called “Snowfall” [about the drug trade in Los Angeles.] I kind of like that one. It’s pretty interesting but I’m a big movie guy.

If you weren’t a jockey, what would you be?

I wanted to be a basketball player. If I had the height and talent that’s what I would have done.

What’s your all-time favorite movie or book?

“Seabiscuit” was my favorite movie. Growing up I had it on DVD and I watched it so many times I could recite the words. It was really cool that when I eventually came out here, I saw all the stuff I saw on Seabiscuit from the mountains and even to the quarter pole. I go across the quarter pole every day now and see it in person and it’s really cool. In the jock’s room, Gary Stevens was the first one to help me shave and there is a scene in Seabiscuit where he’s shaving.

If you could have lunch or dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

I’d like to have my father for one last dinner. My dad committed suicide when I was in Del Mar as an apprentice. So, his life was taken from me like that. He’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing and I am where I am. It was really tough on me and still is. I’d really like to have him back. He was in Kentucky and he would gallop in the morning and was a valet in the afternoon. He was very involved with the horse racing industry. I lived with my mother in Arkansas and I would visit my father in the summertime at Churchill. That’s how I got in to horse racing through my dad.

What’s No. 1 on your bucket list?

I really don’t have a bucket list but something I think every jockey wants to do in their career is win the Kentucky Derby. That’s something I really, really want to do.

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