Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Hampton, 20, Balances Studies With New Role As Jockey Agent - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Hampton, 20, Balances Studies With New Role As Jockey Agent

Kyle Hampton

Kyle Hampton, a 20-year-old Louisville native and full-time college student, is currently mastering the act of balancing homework and a new career as a jockey agent for British newcomer Tyler Heard. The two celebrated Heard's first stateside win the night of Jan. 12 in the sixth race at Charles Town in West Virginia aboard Baytown Frosty in only Heard's second mount since making the move to the United States. Heard finished second with his first ride at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky on Jan. 6.

A longtime horse racing fan, Hampton is currently a junior at the University of Louisville pursuing two Bachelor's degrees in Accounting and Equine Business. He takes all of his classes online to be able to better balance school with his career. Since starting college  he has held positions as a hot walker, an intern with Fox Sports, and as a college ambassador for Keeneland. 

“When I was growing up I rode horses on my cousin's farm and I would always be reading the Racing Form in class,” Hampton said. “I've always had a huge passion for the industry. When I was a kid we would always go on field trips to Churchill Downs. During my senior year of high school I decided it was now or never to start trying to pursue a career in the industry. While I was at the University of Louisville my first job was as a hot walker. Then I got in contact with Fox Sports and America's Day at the Races and took an internship with them.”

It was during Hampton's internship with Fox Sports and America's Day at the Races that he was introduced to the jockey agent career path through on air analyst Frank Lyons. Lyons is also currently an agent for two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux. Once Lyons sparked his interest in becoming a jockey agent, Hampton got in contact with agent Jose Santos Jr., who represents nine jockeys at different tracks  including Adam Beschizza and Reylu Gutierrez, and began helping Santos in the mornings while still working for Fox Sports in the afternoons. 

While his career endeavors have been met by support from Hampton's mentors and fellow agents, he still faces some challenges as one of the youngest agents on the Kentucky circuit. Hampton remains optimistic, though, and even views his age as an advantage in some cases. 

“Knowing every single trainer (has been a challenge) because I haven't been around the race track as long as some of these other agents. I don't see it as a huge barrier though because I'm a pretty friendly person and I get along with people well. I think (being younger than most of the agents) gives me an opportunity to try new techniques and tactics to be able to do the best I can for Tyler and me.”

Hampton and Heard got connected through mutual friend Jake McEntee who works as an assistant to Kenny McPeek. McEntee knew that Heard was wanting to pursue his goal of riding in the U.S. and Hampton was looking for someone to represent so the introduction was made. 

“The main reason I chose Kyle was because he's younger,” Heard said. “I knew he wanted to make a career for himself so it was just as important to him for me to do well as it was to myself. Kyle is just as hungry as I am so I knew he would put the work in and be enthusiastic, so that was the driving factor.”

Tyler Heard

Heard, also 20 years old, began riding in pony races at the age of nine. He moved to Lambourn, England, at age 16 to work for well respected Irish jockey turned trainer Richard Hughes and rode his first race in 2019 at age 17. Since then, Heard has had 796 starts and 57 wins including his two starts in the U.S. 

Heard has joined the Turfway jockey colony for the winter meet and plans to ride at Keeneland in the spring. For now he is breezing horses in the mornings and meeting with trainers to secure future mounts. 

“Through the Turfway meet, you want to be riding every (day of racing), and just get as many winners as you can,” Heard said of his goals for the near future.

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