08/20/2014 12:40PM

Frey determined to come back strong off suspension

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If there’s a hallmark of 21-year-old jockey Kyle Frey’s career, it’s resiliency, but that trait is facing its sternest test yet as Frey returns to action following a 90-day suspension May 2 through July 30 after testing positive for “synthetic cannabinoids: spice.”

As he has done in the past, Frey is meeting his issues head on and is determined to overcome it.

Frey’s first win came with his eighth mount, a 13-1 shot named Terina, after he had failed to score with an odds-on pick. is second win, aboard the 56-1 No Nibbling, came after his first spill when his foot hit the starting gate, knocking him off balance.

He was the winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award as the leading apprentice jockey but only after a second vote was taken because erroneous figures had been sent out on the original winner.

In 2012, he badly broke his right leg, which needed to be repaired with a rod and four screws.

“Being back in the saddle is a blessing,” said Frey, who had one second with five mounts at Santa Rosa.

He won with his first starter at Golden Gate Fields, then had to settle for five seconds, including three Sunday, during the three-day opening weekend.

Frey, who will remain on probation through Jan. 31, 2016, has made a commitment to the Winners Foundation for the next year but, more importantly, has made a commitment to himself.

“I have a long road ahead of me,” said Frey, who is getting on six to eight horses each morning. “I’m not claiming perfection. I took a lot of time to think and work on my character flaws. I would hide from myself and my feelings a lot. I’m still getting tightened up physically, but I’m a lot more patient now and not swinging way outside. I recognize if I make a mistake. Before, when I made a mistake, I couldn’t figure out why.”

Frey is the grandson of Paul Frey, who finished fourth in the 1963 Kentucky Derby. His father, Jay, is an exercise rider, former trainer, and now a valet.

Frey’s victory at Golden Gate wasn’t as easy as it looks on paper, which shows a wire-to-wire victory aboard the first-time starter Incentive Award. Frey had to stand up on the filly as she ducked in near the temporary rail in the six-furlong race. He grabbed her and straightened her out, and she took off from there.

“Victor Ordonez [part of the Golden Gate Fields gate crew and the husband of trainer Aggie Ordonez, whose Lil Orphan Ellie ran second] said watching from the gate it looked scary, and he hoped I’d jump off,” said Frey.

He had more excitement aboard Tiz the Season, who finished second in a race Saturday. Told by trainer Steve Miyadi that Tiz the Season has a very sensitive mouth, Frey had to use all his skills to keep his runner going and was applauded by Miyadi for his efforts, even though Tiz the Season did brush with the winner, Redstone, late.

On Sunday, it was close but no cigar three times, with the losses totaling less than a length.

“Before, I’d be really upset over three seconds,” said Frey, who is looking ahead to more chances to win this weekend.