Updated on 03/10/2015 9:46AM

Ring Weekend gives Van Dyke first Grade 1 win

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Benoit & Associates
Ring Weekend rallies from ninth under Drayden Van Dyke to win the Frank Kilroe Mile.

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Drayden Van Dyke was galloping out aboard Ring Weekend after the $401,500 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday when the magnitude of the win struck the 20-year-old jockey.

Van Dyke, who won the Eclipse Award as the champion apprentice jockey of 2014, had recorded his first Grade 1 win.

“I had the biggest smile,”  Van Dyke said. “That was awesome.”€

Ring Weekend ($17.40) closed from ninth of 11 to win the fourth stakes of his career, and first at the highest level in the Kilroe. A 4-year-old gelding by Tapit, Ring Weekend ran a mile on turf in 1:32.98.

Owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Graham Motion, Ring Weekend had not raced since finishing a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby here last October.

“He’s grown up a lot mentally and physical from last year,”  said Alice Clapham, Motion’s assistant in California.

Ring Weekend was the fourth choice in the betting in the Kilroe Mile. Ring Weekend trailed early leaders Holy Lute and Dimension by about five lengths on the backstretch. Van Dyke tracked jockey Mike Smith on Za Approval on the backstretch and moved closer to the leaders on the turn behind that runner.

“I thought he was a good one to follow,” Van Dyke said.

Ring Weekend was eighth with a quarter-mile remaining, trailing Holy Lute by 4 1/2 lengths. With a furlong remaining, Summer Front, the 2-1 favorite, led by a length, but Ring Weekend closed steadily to reach the front in the final sixteenth and win by a length.

 “I was surprised the other horse went by me so easily,” said jockey Victor Espinoza, who rode Summer Front.

Home Run Kitten, a 13-1 outsider, finished third, followed by Za Approval, Winning Prize, Mega Heat, Holy Lute, Hay Dude, Silentio, Dimension, and Mr. Commons. Winning Prize won the 2014 Kilroe.

Van Dyke began riding in November 2013 and has maintained a position in the top 10 at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting since losing his apprentice status in mid-January. He worked Ring Weekend in late February, shortly after the gelding arrived from Motion’s winter base in Florida.

“I got to breeze him on the turf and he worked amazing,” Van Dyke said.

In Saturday’s Grade 1 Kilroe, Van Dyke put that experience to work for a historic milestone in his career.