Jockey Drayden Van Dyke had a good weekend with the ladies as he helped secure the first Grade 1 win for four-year-old filly Photo Call (IRE) on Saturday at Santa Anita and then headed off to Oklahoma to guide the three-year-old Include Betty to a victory in the Remington Park Oaks. That pair of stakes wins helped the young rider win his first Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week award for the week of Sept. 21st through Sept. 27th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships just around the corner, Photo Call has picked a good time to put together her two best races. The Rodeo Drive is a “Win and You’re In,” race to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr 1). Photo Call has had seven different riders since coming to the States in October of 2014 and the Southern California based rider would surely love to secure the mount for next month’s Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.
Van Dyke was impressed with Photo Call’s willingness to punch through the gap that led her to victory Saturday.
“The stretch was a bit hairy. I went down to the inside hoping Joe (Talamo on Fanticola) would float off of the rail a little bit but he never did. I had to cut back and luckily she was brave enough to go through,” Van Dyke said. “Not a lot of fillies are brave enough to go through a hole like that but she just rocketed through there and I was lucky to get the good trip.”
On Sunday at Remington Park, Van Dyke patiently rode the prohibitive favorite Include Betty to a half-length score in the Remington Oaks. She rallied four wide in the field of six and grinded out a hard fought win to take the filly feature on Oklahoma Derby day.
The son of a former rider, Drayden followed his father around from track to track when he could as a younger teen. “He used to hang around every summer,” trainer Tom Proctor said. “He’d talk a little, but he was always watching. I didn’t realize he was watching that much, but that makes sense now.”
Watching turned into small jobs – hot-walking horses and helping out around the barn when he was 13. Seth and Drayden’s mother, Jennifer, knowing all too well what the job requires, didn’t want their son to follow his father’s footsteps. “He was a straight-A student and we wanted him to go to college,” Seth said. “It’s a hard lifestyle – a ruthless, cutthroat business. You don’t want your kid to go through that.”
But Drayden would not relent, and Proctor saw something in him. He started working in Proctor’s barn after high school, then the trainer sent him to break young horses at Glen Hill Farm in Florida. Homesick and weary, Drayden wanted to come home, but Proctor sent him there for a reason.
“It’s part of the gig,” Proctor said. “I wanted him to be around horses – to see what grooms and hot-walkers do. I wanted him to know the whole story, show me he can work and then I’d help him out, but he’s gotta work first.”
He’s put in plenty of hard work since those early days just a few years ago and now the 19 year-old is just scratching the surface of his raw talent. The young rider could well and truly be on the path to a long and wonderful career as a jockey.
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 Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.