BACKTHE ON HORSE
HALL OF FAME JOCKEY ALEX SOLIS HAS FOUND A NEW PASSION IN TRAINING
Alex Solis sat on the beach for months in Florida, USA. He ished to his heart’s content.
He ate until his belly was beyond full — something he didn’t dare do in his Hall-of-fame career as a jockey.
It all seemed the perfect way to retire for the 54-year-old Panama native who got so much from horse racing (5,035 victories) while it exacted its own toll (a broken back and hip replacement among myriad ailments).
Ultimately, though, there were only so many dinners to plan and rounds of golf to play. “I’m always used to doing something,” Solis said. “I have to have a purpose in life. Going down to the beach every day, eating and drinking and ishing — basically, doing nothing — that’s not me.”
Solis yearned to be back at the track, and more critically, to rekindle the love for horses that was instilled in him while growing up on a farm. “I had a horse before I had a bicycle,” he said.
Solis thought he’d set himself up for a future in the game when he joined the California Horse Racing Board in 2015 while he was actively riding. He went to school to become a steward. But there was something missing in those posts: the thrill of competition and the day-to-day connection with the animals. If Solis wasn’t going to ride anymore, there seemed only one answer: training.
Not more than a month after Solis oficially announced his retirement at Del Mar last November, he began working in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Quietly, earnestly, Solis has become an integral part of the operation and now serves as a second assistant with Mandella’s right-hand man of more than 35 years, Angel Vega.
Other than the distasteful shock of his alarm going off at 4:15am — at least an hour before his jockey wake-up calls — Solis is happy with