06/13/2012 1:00PM

Hollywood: Walther Solis enjoying career year, thanks to better-bred horses and a strong owner

Benoit & Associates
Willa B Awesome became trainer Walther Solis's first Grade 1 winner with this victory in the Santa Anita Oaks.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – For years, trainer Walther Solis would win early season 2-year-old races with horses who would largely be absent from the top of the division by Labor Day.

That no longer applies. Lately, Solis’s horses are capable of winning at any time of year, and in the best company.

With an influx of better-bred horses and the support of California owner-breeder Terry Lovingier, Solis, 50, is in the midst of his best season since he began training in 2005.

Through Wednesday, his starters have earned $622,484 this year, putting him on course for his first seven-figure season. The leader of the group has been the 3-year-old filly Willa B Awesome, who has won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and the Melair Stakes in her last two starts. She runs in the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 23.

More immediately, Solis has three 2-year-olds ready for $100,000 stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Saturday – the Cinderella Stakes for fillies and the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes for either sex.

“Everything looks really, really good,” Solis said on Wednesday.

He was talking about his prospects for this weekend, but could have easily been describing his season in total.

In the Cinderella, Solis starts the maiden race winner Awe Golly Molly and the maiden Awesome Annie. In the Proctor, he starts the maiden race winner Lovmeister.

An alliance with Lovingier has given a boost to Solis’s stable, and continues his lengthy association with California-breds. Solis was the farm manager at the Mabee family’s Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, Calif., until 2004 when he decided to begin training at the racetrack.

“One of the guys who urged me to go on my own was Bob Baffert,” Solis said. “He said, ‘You should go on your own. You don’t want to work for someone else.’

“Everyone is afraid to get up and go on their own. I didn’t have any owners.”

There were growing pains at the start. Solis was winless with 38 starters in 2005. He had his first graded stakes winner with Time to Get Even in the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes in 2007.

Willa B Awesome is his first Grade 1 winner. A winner at 2 in the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Park, Willa B Awesome is by Awesome Gambler, a stallion by Coronado’s Quest who stands at Lovingier’s Lovacres Ranch near Warner Springs, Calif.

Awesome Gambler is the sire of Awe Golly Molly and Awesome Annie. Lovmeister is the final foal out of the retired stallion Nineleven, who stood at Lovingier’s farm.

Awe Golly Molly is a filly with ample promise, Solis said. She closed from fourth in the last furlong of a race over 4 1/2 furlongs to win her debut at Hollywood Park on April 26.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of that filly yet,” Solis said. “She’s a runner. I don’t think she herself knows how much she is capable of.”

Awesome Gambler was the leading freshman sire in California last year. Solis may be biased, but he thinks that the stallion is underrated. With his horses’ better bloodlines, the days in which the stable’s 2-year-olds could not compete deep into the year are gone.

“After six furlongs, you didn’t see the horses anymore,” he said. “Awesome Gambler is the real thing. Next year’s group is even better. We have the first crop of Time to Get Even. They look like runners.”

The stable is not all about California-breds. Later this summer, Solis is eager to start a Perfect Soul colt named Regally Soul and a filly by Songandaprayer named Apalachee Song.

Solis has 30 horses based at Hollywood Park. He has had as many as 40, but says that 30 is about the right number.

“The horses have been running,” said Solis, a native of Guatemala. “The key is we have better horses. The quality has been the difference. We have been able to accomplish more.”