Now the young jockey is certain he is going in the right direction.
Frey, a Tracy native, has overcome personal issues and injuries and once again is winning races. Frey brought home four winners last weekend at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds and will be looking for more this weekend with post time at 1:15 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. The Dick Kranz Memorial, in honor of the late Record sports editor and reporter, will be the sixth race on Saturday.
Frey, 22, left high school early to pursue the family business. After attaining early success as a jockey, Frey suffered a broken leg and his life took a downward turn, as he battled personal issues, including a stint in rehab. He said those experiences have matured him, and now he knows what he wants to do with his life and why he wants to do it.
“I’ve always been a thrill seeker, and racing a horse is one of the most thrilling things you can do,” said Frey, who also is pursuing a General Educational Development certificate. “The thrill you get when you are trying to come down the stretch in a close race is incredible. It’s the best thing in the world to win by a nose, and it’s the worst way to lose.”
Frey admits to making mistakes and bad decisions, but he’s been sober 150 days and hopes others avoid the same pitfalls.
“I’ve learned my lessons,” Frey said. “I’m sobered up and doing everything I need to do. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes, and I’ve done that.”
Frey said he feels fine and it shows. On Sept. 19, he guided Dark Red, which went off at 6-to-1, to victory in the final race of the first day of racing at the fairgrounds.
“He had things he had to deal with, and he dealt with them the best he can,” said Kyle’s father, Jay Frey. “It’s like the place were he is now. I know he loves what he does.”
Kyle Frey has been around horses his entire life. His grandfather, Paul Frey, was a famed jockey from the 1950s through the 1970s and finished fourth atop On My Honor in the 1963 Kentucky Derby. His father is a longtime valet, handling his son and legendary jockey Russell Baze.
Frey attended Tracy High but left school early to pursue a career as a jockey. He quickly made a name for himself. In 2010, he won his first race, and the next year, he rode 153 winners on his way to earning the 2011 Eclipse Award for top apprentice jockey.
He moved to the East Coast and had success, but in 2012 he broke his right leg when he took a spill from a horse. He was competing again in nine months but couldn’t regain his winning form.
“I think he came back too fast,” Jay Frey said. “The doctors said a year, and it was less than nine months. I think it hurt him”
Kyle Frey said it was a tough time.
“I wasn’t riding well, I got depressed, and I made some bad decisions,” he said. “I knew I had to get things straightened out.”
Today he will ride Wild Code in the fifth race, Flamin Hot Mama in the seventh and will likely pick up additional mounts.
He said he’s determined to ride hard but not be overly aggressive, keep himself together and enjoy doing what he loves most in the world.
“I’ve learned a lot of things in a short amount of time,” Kyle Frey said. “I’m determined to do things the right way, and I’ve got the best job in the world.”