01/28/2009 1:00AM

Solis switches agents


ARCADIA, Calif. - Alex Solis on Tuesday fired his longtime agent Scotty McClellan, replacing him with Brian Beach, who has been away from racing for three years.

Neither Solis nor McClellan could recall exactly when they began as a team. McClellan pegged the start in the early 1990s, when he also booked mounts for the now-retired jockey Chris McCarron. Regardless, the move ends the longest-running relationship between a jockey and an agent in Southern California, and comes at a time when Solis said he is on a mission to revive his career. Through Sunday, Solis was fifth in the standings at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, with 10 wins. Solis has not finished a meeting in the top five since he finished fourth at the 2006 Del Mar meeting. Since then, he has ranked between sixth and 13th in the major meetings in Southern California.

Solis, 44, has won 16 Southern California meet titles and has 4,635 victories through Tuesday.

He blamed himself for his fall in the standings in recent seasons.

"I got lazy," he said. "I can't blame Scotty."

Solis said he rode fewer horses in recent years because he wanted to ride better horses and stay away from riding cheap horses, and he did not want to ride on Friday nights at Hollywood Park. Younger riders, such as Rafael Bejarano, Tyler Baze, Joel Rosario, and Joe Talamo have shown a desire to ride all sorts of horses. Along with those riders, the two-time champion jockey Garrett Gomez gave Solis competition for better mounts.

Now, Solis said he wants to ride all types of horses.

"The last two years, I've made a lot of mistakes," Solis said. "I wasn't riding Friday nights at Hollywood. I didn't want to ride cheaper horses. I lost a lot of business, and it was my fault.

"I'm excited about riding right now. I feel like I'm doing better. It's so clear in my mind. God willing, I have another five or 10 years."

Solis said he is doing more outside of the racetrack to keep fit, such as jogging in the mountains above Santa Anita and riding a mechanical horse to simulate the motion of race-riding.

"I'm training myself like I was before, mainly on the mechanical horse, visualizing races," he said. "I haven't done that lately. I think it's such an advantage.

"One of the advantages I have is experience. I feel like I'm riding better. I don't want to sit in the jockeys' room and ride one or two horses."

In replacing McClellan, Solis said Wednesday that he "felt like I needed a change."

"He's a wonderful man and he took care of me for 16 years," Solis said. "I thought about this for a while."

McClellan will continue to book mounts for Joe Talamo, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding apprentice jockey of 2007. Through Sunday, Talamo was fourth in the jockey standings with 17 wins, 10 behind Gomez, Rosario, and Bejarano, who were tied for first.

"I hate to lose him," McClellan said of Solis. He said his one regret was that Solis was not elected to racing's Hall of Fame during their time together. "I think he deserves to be there," McClellan said.

Beach has not represented a rider since the spring of 2006, spending the last few years working with his brother in a computer start-up company near Del Mar. He formerly represented jockeys such as Julie Krone, Rene Douglas, and Jose Valdivia Jr.

Earlier this week, Beach expressed a strong interest in returning to racing as an agent.

"I want to get back to the track," he said. "It's something you get in your blood, and I miss that."

She's Cheeky aims high in Santa Monica

She's Cheeky has gone from a five-time loser in maiden races to the winner of three consecutive starts in the last four months. She will be tested in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap.

The Santa Monica field includes Indian Blessing, the champion female sprinter of 2008, and Ventura, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint here in October. Indian Blessing is not a definite runner; Ventura is expected to start.

The reality is She's Cheeky is overmatched, and trainer Peter Eurton is hoping that she can gain a placing in a prestigious Grade 1.

"I don't think I've ever run in a Grade 1," Eurton said. "I know she's a filly that does what she has to do, but she'll have to do a lot more. I don't expect to beat Ventura."

She's Cheeky has never been worse than third in eight starts. She won her sixth start, a six-furlong maiden race here in October, by four lengths, and followed with a win in an optional claimer on Oct. 24 and an allowance race on Dec. 29.

Eurton, 51, is in the midst of his best start at a Santa Anita meeting. Through Sunday, he was tied for seventh in the trainer standings with 6 wins from 17 starters. He has 21 horses at Santa Anita and six at Hollywood Park, the largest stable he has had.

"I picked up some new clients," he said. "Having more numbers is a key."

Sugar Mint in tough allowance

Rather than running Sugar Mint in a stakes, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has entered her in a tough $56,000 allowance race at a mile on turf on Friday.

A 4-year-old filly who was stakes-placed in England last year, Sugar Mint may go favored on Friday. She won her U.S. debut in an allowance race on the hillside turf course on Jan. 8, overcoming a slow start to pull clear by 1 1/2 lengths in the last furlong.

"We were happy with the first race," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "We don't want too many big steps with her. We think this is the right way to go. She's full of life. She seems like a very happy horse."

Owned by William de Burgh, Sugar Mint should have no trouble with the distance. Last year in England, she was a winner at a mile and was a game second in the Cheshire Oaks at 1 7/16 miles on turf.

Sugar Mint will get a stakes-caliber test on Friday. She must beat Solar Miss, who was third in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap here on Jan.o4.