Alex Solis, a successful fixture on the Southern California circuit for 25 years, will begin riding full time in Kentucky, agent Brian Beach said.
Solis, a 46-year-old native of Panama City, first raced in the United States in Florida in 1982 and moved to Southern California in 1985. Through April 16, he had recorded 4,772 wins in North America from 31,551 mounts. Solis was named to ride in the ninth race at Keeneland on April 18.
“He’ll ride out the Keeneland meet and the entire meet at Churchill Downs, which ends July 4,” Beach said. “Then we’ll see where we go from there, maybe Saratoga. It depends on how many Kentucky-based trainers run there. After that, we plan to stay in Kentucky through the Breeders’ Cup.
“It was kind of a last-minute decision," Beach added. "Alex had been looking in the back of his mind to ride in Kentucky before he retired. We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to ride there now with the hope of landing mounts for the Breeders’ Cup there this fall. (Trainer) Ken McPeek is putting us on a few of his good horses, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Solis has 20 riding titles to his credit, 16 in Southern California. He won Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1997 and the Bill Shoemaker Award as outstanding rider on Breeders’ Cup Day in 2003, when he won two races, including the Classic (gr. I) aboard Pleasantly Perfect . Solis won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) on champion Kona Gold in 2000, and has been nominated to racing’s Hall of Fame several times, but has yet to be elected.
“I’m leaving today,” Solis said April 17 after finishing second aboard General Consensus in the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT). “I’ve been riding here for 25 years, but I’ve never ridden (regularly) back East. I’m very happy with all the support people have given me in California—the owners, trainers, you guys (media), everybody. I had a great career here but I’d like to try something different and I have a good opportunity back there, and I’m going to try it.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m very happy with my life and enjoy riding more than ever. I want to ride a little bit more and continue to enjoy what I love doing. I feel like I’m riding good, and having fun at what I’m doing. That’s the main thing, so I’m going to keep doing it.”