Jockey Van Dyke recovering from Del Mar Futurity 'crush injury'

September 06, 2019 10:01am

Released Wednesday from the hospital after suffering injuries in a spill to start the Del Mar Futurity (G1), jockey Drayden Van Dyke said there’s no defined timeline for his return to the saddle. Because he didn’t break any bones, it’s a matter of waiting for swelling to subside, especially in his right arm, which was trampled by a rival horse.

“It’s really up to my body, honestly,” Van Dyke said. “Nothing’s broken. I just have what the doctors call a crush injury. There was enough force that a bone should have broken, but fortunately one didn’t break.”

Van Dyke is hopeful he’ll return sometime around the start of Santa Anita’s fall meet, which starts Sept. 27 and culminates with the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup.

The 24-year-old was aboard Del Mar Futurity favorite Eight Rings, an open-lengths debut winner, when things went awry early in Monday’s race. The Empire Maker colt first broke inwardly, forcing Van Dyke to take a strong hold on his right rein and straighten out Eight Rings.

“The moment I looked over at where everyone else was and how the field was adjusting, he took a left as fast as he could take one,” Van Dyke said. “When they do that, your balance goes out the door. The last thing I saw, he was pointed right at the rail. I thought he was going to jump clear over the rail, so I went to let go and slide off the back of him.

“When he got to the rail, it looked like he kind of straightened up again. Unfortunately there was a horse right behind me. He ran smack over me, and that’s what gave me my injury.”

Storm the Court, who had the rail post position, was the other horse involved. Eight Rings broke from the No. 2 stall in the field of eight 2-year-olds.

The injury was to the same arm Van Dyke broke in January of 2017. He gained medical clearance for that five months later, in June.

“That’s usually when you get one of our bad injuries — when you get clipped by one of those horses’ legs,” Van Dyke said. “They’re so heavy and so strong. They’ll snap your limbs.”

According to Equibase, Van Dyke has ridden 77 winners from 437 starters in 2019. At Del Mar, he followed up last summer’s riding title by finishing second in the standings to Flavien Prat.

The Louisville, Ky., native has reason to return quickly having regained the mount on 3-year-old Improbable for a victory in the recent Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. That one could be headed to the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby (G1), a $1 million race and proving ground for the Breeders’ Cup.

Van Dyke also rode Bast to a dominant Del Mar Debutante (G1) victory. She figures to return in the Sept. 27 Chandelier (G1) at Santa Anita, the same day Eight Rings could seek redemption in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1).

Of course, there is the physical side of returning to the job, and then the mental hurdles.

“That’s where good jockeys, and jockeys who make it long in this career, sort themselves out,” Van Dyke said. “People can come back from really serious injuries and accidents like that like nothing happened. Of course, you’re going to be a little hesitant at the start. But my last injury was way worse than this one, and I couldn’t wait to get back.”


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