- SOLIS TAKES MILESTONE 5,000TH VICTORY IN STRIDE
- TEAM O’NEILL EYES ‘ONE MORE’ WIN IN MONROVIA
- NO HIDING JUDY IN DISGUISE FOR MONROVIA STAKES
- ELTONINADRESS FASHIONABLE AMONG HORSEMEN
SOLIS REMEMBERS HIS ROOTS AFTER 5,000TH TRIUMPH
It was just another day at the office for Alex Solis after recording career victory No.
5,000 Thursday at Santa Anita.
Sure, there were high fives, handshakes and other congratulatory gestures, in addition to obligatory photo ops recording the milestone for posterity, but Alex Solis took it all in stride after becoming only the 29th rider in history to register 5,000 wins.
What would one expect from a jockey who has been riding for nearly three-and-a-half decades and who after the umpteenth time on the ballot, was finally elected to racing’s Hall of Fame last April.
Alex Solis is a man of patience who has not forgotten his roots.
“The win was very special,” said Solis Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the native Panamanian rode 19-1 outsider Lutine Belle to a 1 ¼-length victory in the Blue Norther Stakes, a race offering more than one story line.
Not only is the 3-year-old filly owned in part by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Solis’ son, bloodstock agent Alex II, owns a piece, too. It was fitting as well that Solis should win his 5,000th on the big stage at Santa Anita, where he had previously ridden 1,354 winners, placing him sixth all-time at The Great Race Place.
“I’m honored to have saddled the horse for Alex’s 5,000th win,” said Hollendorfer, who himself is approaching 6,800 career victories.
“I’m very grateful for everything I have,” said Solis, who turns 51 on March 26. “Every day I get up, I know what I’ve come from and I never forget that. Inside of me, I’m tickled to death and very, very happy.
“I grew up in a very poor environment. That’s why I love to go back and visit in Panama, to keep myself grounded. For the life that I have lived, I feel very, very fortunate. I’m grateful to the horses and their owners and trainers for the opportunity they’ve given me.
“Thanks to them, I’m here. I really mean it.”
ONE MORE FIRING BULLETS FOR GRADE II MONROVIA
Team O’Neill hopes One More follows in the footsteps of Smoove It when the 4-year-
old daughter of 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull runs in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes for older fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
Smoove It had been working well at Pomona prior to her 3 1/4-length triumph at 6-1 in Wednesday’s seventh race at a mile on turf. It was her first start in six weeks.
One More has been out of action considerably longer, since last May, but has fired four successive bullets over the Pomona oval in preparation for the Monrovia.
“She’s been working at Barretts and we really love how she’s been handling things over there,” said Leandro Mora, who deputized admirably for trainer Doug O’Neill during his lengthy suspension which recently ended.
“We’re so happy with how our horses have been working there for their races at Santa Anita. Smoove It went through exactly the same program, so we’re hoping One More repeats.”
Asked how it felt to lighten his load, so to speak, now that O’Neill has returned: “I’m very happy now. I took the hump out of my back already. I’m smiling.”
The field for the Monrovia: Shrinking Violet, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; To My Valentine, Fernando Perez, 15-1; Baruta, Tiago Pereira, 15-1; Heat Trap, Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Gender Agenda, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Warm Breeze, Kieren Fallon, 20-1; Wishing Gate, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Biorhythm, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-2; One More, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Sky Treasure, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Judy In Disguise, Joe Talamo; and Velvet Mesquite, Mike Smith, 7-2.
TALAMO ON HORSE FOR COURSE IN MONROVIA
Joe Talamo seeks his second straight win aboard downhill turf course specialist Judy In Disguise in Sunday’s Grade II Monrovia Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s one-of-a-kind layout.
The 24-year-old riding star piloted the English-bred daughter of Elusive City to a punctual half-length score in allowance company at seven furlongs on Del Mar’s Polytrack Nov. 28. In three starts on Santa Anita’s course, however, Judy In Disguise has a win and a third.
“She was coming off a pretty lengthy layoff before her Del Mar win, and Simon (trainer Simon Callaghan) loved her that day,” Talamo said. “He told me to just ride her with confidence, and she loves the hill, so if we get a good trip, she should win.
“The course is so intriguing with that right-hand bend, but like any turf race, you want to try and save ground and get a good trip. Before and after you cross the dirt you have to pick a spot to get out and come rolling.
“It’s a fun course, the only one in America like it, and when horses take to it, they really like it.”
A consistent 5-year-old English-bred mare, Judy In Disguise won the Sweet Life Stakes over the same layout as the Monrovia in February of 2013. She has a 5-3-3 record from 16 starts with earnings of $214,204 for owner Aron Wellman, who races as Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
WINNING IS THE NAME OF THE GAME FOR ELTONINADRESS
Horses like Eltoninadress are the heart and soul of Thoroughbred racing, venerable campaigners who love to win.
The 5-year-old mare won for the ninth time from 31 starts when she repulsed precipitous class dropper Peppy Bolly to capture Wednesday’s second race by 2 ¼ lengths.
It was only a lowly claiming race with a purse of $19,000, but it once again showed the grit and determination Eltoninadress has displayed in her career. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Songandaprayer also has 10 seconds and six thirds, with earnings of more than $130,000.
“She’s got a few aches and pains, but nothing serious,” said trainer Robertino Diodoro, who has had Eltoninadress in his care three times, but lost her through a $10,000 claim to trainer Rodney Cone on Wednesday, the ninth time she has been haltered in her last 12 starts.
“She’s got lots of heart,” Diodoro said. “She’s just a solid mare. She’s just a race horse, yeah, a cheaper one, but she runs for everybody. She’s just a hard-knocking mare. She’s gutsy. She’ll run on any surface.”
Diodoro, like Eltoninadress, also runs pretty much on “any surface,” campaigning strings not only at Santa Anita, but Oaklawn Park and Turf Paradise.
“I’ve got just over a hundred in training right now,’ said the 40-year-old native of Calgary, who is accustomed to frosty weather, but says the recent cold snap on the West Coast is a challenge, even for someone born in The Great White North.
“We were in Phoenix the last four or five days, and that’s the coldest I’ve seen it,” Diodoro said. “In the afternoons it gets clear and sunny, but it doesn’t warm up that much.”
So much for global warming . . .
HRTV’S LIVE ANNOUNCEMENT OF ECLIPSE FINALISTS JAN. 7
Media and horsemen are invited to attend HRTV’s live announcement of the finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Awards next Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 8:30 a.m.
Hosted by Laffit Pincay III and Christina Blacker, with reporters Scott Hazelton and Caton Bredar, it will take place in the Baldwin Conference Room and on HRTV and HRTV.com.
The Eclipse Award winners will be announced on Jan. 17.
FINISH LINES: Jerry Hollendorfer says recent Malibu winner and Horse of the Year contender Shared Belief is doing “very good,” with the emphasis on “very,” at his Golden Gate headquarters as he prepares for the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes and a possible meeting with fellow Horse of the Year hopefuls California Chrome and Bayern on Feb. 7. “He’ll probably breeze up there on Tuesday,” the Hall of Fame trainer said . . . Hollendorfer sent Puerto Rican champion Tonito M., winner of the Grade III Oklahoma Derby, six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:12.80 for the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 10 . . . Grade I winner Tom’s Tribute, 5-2 choice on Jon White‘s morning line odds for Saturday’s San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf, drew the No. 8 post position, but trainer Jim Cassidy was philosophical about the outside post draw. “It’s OK,” he said. “It’s not a mile.” . . . Drayden Van Dyke, odds-on to win an Eclipse Award as 2014’s top apprentice rider, will lose his weight allowance on Jan. 19, two days after honors are announced at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino . . . The popular Budweiser Clydesdales will perform on Santa Anita’s main track after Saturday’s third race. They will also be in the West Paddock from 12 noon to 2 p.m. should fans wish to take pictures of them.