Normally, little attention is paid to the Eclipse Award voting for apprentice jockey as the majority of voters merely look at the stats and see who had the most wins and most earnings.
In 2011, however, a major twist to the voting all but forced voters who went for Rosario Montanez to re-evaluate their original selection. Because the statistics provided to voters included Montanez’ wins and earnings accomplished after he had lost his apprenticeship, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and National Turfwriters and Broadcasters issued new statistics and ordered a re-vote.
The second round of voting gave the award to Kyle Frey, who got 77 first-place votes. Ryan Curatolo received 57 votes while Montanez got 19 votes. Both Frey and Montanez plied their trade at Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park in 2011.
Frey ended the year with 884 mounts, 153 wins, 132 seconds, and 128 thirds, for earnings of $4,052,449. He won with a respectable 17% of his mounts.
The 19-year-old native of Tracy, Cal., worked on his stepmother’s ranch when he was 14 and then on a ranch in Washington at age 16, eventually making his way to the racetrack, where he began mucking stalls and walking hots and then galloping horses for trainer Steve Miyadi in Northern California. He began his riding career at Golden Gate Fields, winning his first race in his eighth start aboard 13-1 longshot Terina.
In his first 45 career mounts, Frey, who employed Russell Baze’s agent, Ray Harris, won three races, with two seconds and five thirds.
Frey is following a family tradition. His grandfather, Paul Frey, was a leading jockey in California and the Northwest from the 1950s to early ’70s, winning more than 4,000 races, and his father, Jay, trained horses for a while and also was an exercise rider and currently is a jockey’s valet in Northern California.