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HRN Original Blog:
Bay Area Backstretch

Golden Gate Fields welcomes back Kyle Frey

The power of social media sites on the internet can never be understated. These days you can log in to Facebook and Twitter and find out whats happening in the world, usually long before the television can get you the news.

In July, I was taking pictures at a wedding reception, when I checked my facebook on my phone to see if anything exciting was going on. Being that I have a horse racing facebook, every other post is usually about the sport in some capacity.

One posting stopped me in my tracks.

“Pray for my son Kyle, he got in a racing accident” the post said. The Kyle was Kyle Frey and the post was by his mother. The same Kyle Frey that began his career at Golden Gate Fields and the same Kyle Frey I had become close friends with since the day he started his career. Being that Kyle was riding at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, information was slow to come in. All of a sudden taking pictures took a back seat to my monitoring of Facebook.

A week earlier we had been through the death of jockey Jorge Herrera at Pleasanton and I could not imagine the bay area going through another round of serious injury to one of our own.

As the night went on, we found out that Kyle had suffered a  broken leg but was in no jeopardy of a more serious injury. He got lucky. The horse he was riding broke down at the top of the stretch. Kyle escaped a worse fate when the trailing horse fell and missed landing on him by a few feet. Instead the horse’s legs hit his, causing the injury.

Kyle, as you may have read in some of my earlier blogs, grew up in nearby Tracy and started his career at GGF before moving to Phily and winning the Eclipse Award for best Apprentice in 2011. He was just getting hot as a journeyman when the accident occurred. 

The injury was deemed a pretty bad break. After surgery to insert a steel rode in his leg, Kyle was told the recovery time for an injury like this was 8-12 months. Kyle, the determined young man that he is, told family and friends he would be back in 6 months.

Tomorrow, almost four months to the day of the accident, Kyle will ride Kissn Tristan at Golden Gate Fields as he begins his unlikely quick return to racing. The horse, which is owned by his family, was the second horse Kyle ever rode as an apprentice and now will be his first mount back.

“The plan is to start here, enjoy being around friends and family, and still being able to ride and get ready and fit for whatever goals I will set for myself, “ Frey said “ I have no idea how long I’m going to ride here or where I may look to go in the future. Being in Philadelphia, don’t get me wrong  I love it, there’s good people there and the money was great but its not home..home is home” 

According to GGF track physician David Seftel, Kyle has cleared every test put in front of him.

“He has a full range of motion and he‘s been doing exercises to build up his muscle strength,” Seftel said. “ The x-rays show its healing beautifully, the rod is stable and those are all parameters to release him to ride.”

But while Frey readies to take to the saddle again, he does so in a different state of mind he has ever been in. And he thanks the injury, and the time off ,for giving him that.

“The whole thing has been a huge blessing and only for the better,”  he said. “I learned a lot about myself. I’m more grounded than I have ever been. I have to admit after I won the Eclipse Award I got a little big headed. But sitting in bed for days with nothing to do, a lot goes through your mind. I went from being on the top of the world and meeting the top names in the game to trying to keep a positive attitude and being lucky I didn’t lose everything. It makes you appreciate life and your career a lot more and honestly it made the fire burn stronger.”

During his down time, Kyle also got engaged to his longtime girlfriend Miya and that added to the stability of his life that he now feels is there. He credits her with being one of the main reasons he was able to come back in such a positive manner.

So the scene is set for a new chapter is Kyle’s life. His accomplishments, though still very active in peoples memories, are in the past. The apprentice that climbed aboard his first horse on November 26th, 2010 and won 153 races in 2011, is gone. From here on out every time he walks out of the jockeys room, he will bring with him a desire to prove to everybody that he is back and can continue to ride at the level he was at before the injury.

Who’s to doubt him? This is a kid that told me that if they had duct taped his leg to the saddle the day after the accident, he would have rode then. That’s the attitude you have to have to be a jockey. 

 

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Older Comments about Golden Gate Fields welcomes back Kyle Frey...

Good to see the Eclipse winner back!
The job of riding horses is a tough one, but Kyle sounds like one tough jockey. Good luck on the comeback.

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Meet Don August

I have been involved in horse racing, from a fan to sportswriter, for the past 30 years. The first time my dad took me to the track, I picked a horse named "Black Tornado" and when he won, I was hooked.  From then on, I spent weekends and occasional school days at the race track, and my enjoyment of the sport led me to try my hand at being a jockey agent, which i did for 3 years. When that didn't work out as I had hoped, I concentrated on my writing career by covering big races and doing summer fair handicapping, off and on, for the Contra Costa Times.

Today, I stay involved in the sport by being part of a group that currently owns two horses stabled at Golden Gate Fields. As all owners, we have dreams of someday having that special horse.  Besides writing about horse racing I enjoy covering many sports and have had the honor of meeting and writing about some incredible athletes.