Having celebrated a second Kentucky Derby win May 5, and a Triple Crown five weeks later, former Princeton schoolboy Brad Pegram just might get to celebrate both a triple and a double come May 4, 2019.
As the agent for Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the son of fellow agent Jim Pegram and nephew of horse owner Mike Pegram celebrated when 50-to-1-shot Giacomo won the 2005 Kentucky Derby, and again this past spring when since-retired Justify became thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown winner by capturing the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes with Smith aboard.
More recent history now suggests that Brad Pegram, third baseman on a Princeton Babe Ruth League All-Star team that won a state championship several gallops ago, could become a Kentucky Derby winner with two jockeys. That achievement wouldn't just be a double, it would also be a triple -- his third win in Louisville's fabled Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
Because he's the agent not only for Smith, but also for 23-year-old Drayden Van Dyke, who rode 2-year-old Improbable to victory in the $100,000 Street Sense Stakes on November 2, first day of last weekend's Breeders' Cup Championships at Churchill Downs. The Street Sense race wasn't a Breeders' Cup race, but it was an eye-opening stakes race on that day's Churchill Downs card.
Improbable's second career start brought his second win, this by 7 1/4 lengths as he ran a mile in 1 minute 35.61 seconds. That validated his role as the 4-to-5 favorite and brought listing as a 2019 Derby contender. Then Van Dyke enhanced his reputation a day later by riding 6-year-old gelding Stormy Liberal to victory in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, a race that Stormy Liberal also won in 2017.
"I don't remember how Drayden and I got together, but I've known him quite a while and he has learned all of Mike's good habits," Brad Pegram said.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who trains all horses owned or co-owned by Mike Pegram, including 1998 Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet, and whose table has included both Justify and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, is thusly quoted about Van Dyke on a Santa Anita Park web page story co-authored by Zoe Cadman and Alexis Garske:
"He's a student of the game."
Brad Pegram also is quoted on the Santa Anita web page. Asked about similarities shared by Smith and Van Dyke, he answered:
"Their dedication to staying fit to ride, their work ethic, and their mental approach."