08/14/2014 1:51PM

Former jockey Van Dyke, 43, dies

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Seth Van Dyke, a former jockey whose son, Drayden, is one of the leading riders in Southern California, died Monday in Florida, Drayden Van Dyke said Wednesday.

Drayden Van Dyke said the cause of death was an apparent suicide. A native of Fremont, Neb., Seth Van Dyke, who was known by his nickname of “Squirt,” had worked as an exercise rider and a jockeys’ room valet in recent years at tracks in Florida and Kentucky. He was 43.

Seth Van Dyke’s Facebook page was full of condolences Wednesday. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and hunting.

Drayden Van Dyke, 19, said he had not been in contact with his father in recent weeks and was at a loss to explain his death.

“I had a couple of his friends call,” he said. “They’d talked to him, and they said he was fine.”

Drayden Van Dyke won his first race last November. In an interview last month, he said he and his father spoke occasionally as he began winning races frequently at Santa Anita. Drayden Van Dyke described his father as a source of encouragement.

He spent time with his father in Kentucky during recent summers. He said plans for a memorial service had not been finalized.