Alex Solis Won Three Breeders’ Cup Races During Hall of Fame Riding Career
A Breeders’ Cup champion rider announced his retirement Sunday at Del Mar, the host track of the recently concluded Breeders’ Cup. Jockey Alex Solis, the 53-year-old Hall of Fame rider has retired from racing.
“I’m retiring from race riding, but not from the sport,” Solis said. “I’d like to do something in the future, and I will use the same blueprint I’ve used all my life – to work hard and always do my best.”
Solis was the leading apprentice jockey in his homeland of Panama, and came the United States nearly broke in 1982. He did not speak English as he began his American racing career at Calder Race Course in Florida. In 1986, he was aboard the even-money favorite Snow Chief in the Kentucky Derby, but finished eleventh. Undeterred, Snow Chief and Solis bounced back to win the Preakness Stakes over the Derby winner Ferdinand.
Solis’ career would continue strong, and he won his first Breeders’ Cup race in the BC Sprint in 2000. In 2003, Solis rode a pair of Breeders’ Cup winners with Johar in the Turf and Pleasantly Perfect in the Classic. Pleasantly Perfect also carried Solis to a victory in the Dubai World Cup in 2004. Other notable mounts and winners for Solis included Megahertz, Bertando, Kona Gold, Sea Cadet, Dixie Union, Brother Derek, Dare and Go, Ryafan, Flat Out, Redattore, Magical Fantasy and Malek.
Solis took his last ride in April this year, and is still in physical therapy and recovering from hip surgery in August.
“The surgery went fine, but I really thought about it and I’ve been out six, seven months, and I was losing the passion,” said Solis, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. “When you have to ride races, you have to give it 100%. To be out that long, to think about making weight—my heart has to be in it.”
Solis’ Hall of Fame riding career includes 5,035 wins in 33,966 starts with more than $238 million in purse earnings. He won 84 Grade 1 races and was a fixture at Del Mar. Solis has the fourth-most stakes wins at Del Mar with 95 and the sixth-most total victories with 688. He won two season riding titles, in 1996 and 2001. He was also a runner up in the Kentucky Derby three times.
Solis earned Hall of Fame honors in 2014, and he was named to the California Horse Racing Board in 2015, becoming the first active jockey to hold such a position. He plans on focusing on that position in the near future as he moves forward with his post-racing career.
“I’ve been doing this for 37 years and it’s very important to stay involved and to help keep up the integrity of racing.”