by Mary Rampellini, Daily Racing Form
Drayden Van DykeDrayden Van Dyke jumped right into a career in racing following his high school graduation, traveling to Southern California from his home in Arkansas to work for trainer Tom Proctor. His ambitious move has paid dividends, as Van Dyke, 20, is an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding apprentice jockey of 2014.

“I didn’t want to waste time,” Van Dyke told Daily Racing Form of the move. “I wanted to get right in the game.”

Van Dyke learned the sport from the ground up and on Nov. 21, 2013, found himself aboard his first winner at Betfair Hollywood Park. He would have a breakout year in 2014. Van Dyke led all North American-based apprentices in wins and mount earnings, with 192 victories from 1,178 starts in 2014. His mounts banked $6,074,102.

Van Dyke also won two riding titles – in the summer and fall at Los Alamitos – and collected a trio of stakes wins. His first came by a nose with 28-1 shot Ann of the Dance in the $95,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap at Del Mar in August. Van Dyke then took the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington in September with the Proctor trainee Sistas Stroll and the $98,000 Desi Arnaz at Del Mar in November with Achiever’s Legacy.

Van Dyke’s decision to gravitate toward race riding is no surprise, as his father, Seth Van Dyke, was a retired jockey who worked in racing until his death last summer.

“A lot of people have something to ride for – a parent, religion,” Drayden Van Dyke told DRF in August. “Now I have something to ride for – my dad.”