Jockey Alex Solis registered his 4,000th career win aboard speedy King Robyn Friday in the $110,800 Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds on the Santa Anita downhill turf course.
Solis, 39, a native of Panama City, won his first race at Presidente Remon in Panama on Nov. 7, 1981.
The longtime Southern California riding leader briefly celebrated the win in the winner's circle with his family. He bcame the 42nd jockey in North American racing to reach the 4,000-win milestone.
"This is a neat accomplishment," Solis said. "One of the things I've tried to teach my kids is to always strive for something and don't take the easy way out. Hopefully this will carry over to the Breeders' Cup. All week I've felt confident. All my horses have been working well."
King Robyn, a bay gelding by Robyn Dancer, won his seventh race in 10 starts this year with a gate-to-wire score in the Morvich, his first in four tries in a graded stakes event. The winning time was 1:13 1/5. King Robyn prevailed by a head over late-rallying Medecis. Another three quarters of a length back, Geronimo got up for third by a head over Thunder Bullet.
Solis popped the gate in front of the nine-horse field and the Jeff Mullins-trained runner angled in to establish the pace. He clicked off rapid fractions of :21 4/5 and :43 4/5 while holding a one-length lead over Thunder Bullet and Apache Wings into the stretch. In deep stretch, King Robyn repelled the challenge of Thunder Bullet, then held off the late surge by Medecis, who was ridden by Gary Stevens.
"I didn't tell Alex to do anything," Mullins said. "He's ridden the horse a lot more than I have. This horse has to get out and hit a stride and Alex knows just how to get him to do that."
Medecis came out while crossing the dirt portion of the turf course and rallied strongly. Geronimo, who rated in fourth on the inside for Patrick Valenzuela, angled out in the stretch and also finished well.
"I knew I didn't have a shot because the winner is very tough," Stevens said. "My horse was closing fast but not quick enough."
"I wish I had tried him on this course (hillside) before," said Richard Mandella, who trains the runner-up. "He's always trained like such a good horse, but never performed in the afternoon like he does in the morning. I think he doesn't like the sharps turns on our turf courses having grown up in Europe."
King Robyn has now won four times on the turf this year, earning $66,480 for owner Cornejo Racing Inc. After beginning his career at 2 in Florida, he now has 10 career victories in 18 starts and earnings of nearly $403,710.
Farnsworth Farms bred King Robyn in Florida.
War Zone finished fifth, a half-length behind Thunder Bullet. Apache Wings, Gallant, Van Rouge and Rock Opera completed the order of finish.
The 5-2 favorite paid $7.20, $4 and $3.40. Medecis, who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) Oct. 5, returned $7 and $4.60. Geronimo's show was $5.20. The $2 exacta was worth $60.40.