Alex Solis and Kona Gold finally made it to the winner's circle
At last, in the wake of two frustrating near misses with Kona Gold and after years of struggling separately to break their Breeders' Cup maidens, the 6-year-old bay gelding, jockey Alex Solis (below) and trainer Bruce Headley met in the winner's circle at the Downs. Just crowned the fastest sprinter in the world, Kona Gold had finally brought the two men together where they had most wanted to meet. Now here they were, in celebration, with Solis having won his first Breeders' Cup race in 32 tries, Headley his first in seven and Kona Gold his first in three. "Alex rode him to perfection!" said Headley.
In a crowded 14-horse field in the Sprint, the 36-year-old Panamanian steered Kona Gold behind the blazing pace of Caller One, ran down the leader in the last 100 yards and held off Honest Lady to win by half a length. The time of 1:07[3/5] was a track and Breeders' Cup record. Under Solis, Kona Gold had finished third in the Sprint in 1998 and second last year. "I am so proud of this horse," Solis said after the victory. "I've been on him since [his second start]. He's like a son. I've seen him grow up like one of my kids."
Solis, one of California's leading jockeys, had finished second in six Breeders' Cups. "I finally got it done," he whispered to a friend. "Thank God I got the monkey off my back."