01/05/2012 2:21PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Kyle Frey

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He began working with horses just three years ago but won 153 races in his first full season of riding in 2011 to earn recognition as an Eclipse Award finalist for champion apprentice jockey.

Frey, a 19-year-old native of Tracy, Calif., who spent most of the season riding at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania, got serious about a career in racing in his late teens and went to work on a ranch in Washington State.

“I didn’t learn racetrack stuff at the ranch, but I did learn about horses,” he said. “I broke a baby, and there were hunter-jumpers there, and I’d jump them over fences bareback to learn about balance.”

It was a somewhat unconventional start for Frey, who actually hails from a racing family and would later go to work for trainer Steve Miyadi in Northern California. Frey’s grandfather Paul Frey was a leading rider in Washington and Northern California from the 1950s to 1970s, and his father, Jay, is a former trainer. Kyle Frey’s first agent, meanwhile, was Ray Harris, who also books mounts for Russell Baze, the top winning rider in North America.

Frey rode his fi rst career winner on Dec. 5, 2010, at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California. A few months later he moved his tack to Parx, where he ranked as the meet’s leading apprentice in 2011 with 123 wins from 661

starts, for $3.5 million in earnings through Dec. 31. Frey won races at a 19 percent clip at Parx and ranked fifth in the track’s general standings through Dec. 31. Overall, he won 153 races from 884 starts in 2011 for more than $4 million in mount earnings.