Florent Geroux aboard Social Paranoia, winner of the Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park
The Elkstone Group’s Social Paranoia, facing older horses for the first time in his seasonal debut, made a stunning last-to-first move on the far outside to outrun stablemate Sombeyay by 1 ¼ lengths and win Saturday’s $100,000 Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The 68th running of the one-mile Appleton for 4-year-olds and up on turf was among 10 stakes, six graded, worth $1.825 million on a spectacular 14-race program, immediately preceding the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1), one of the country’s premier Triple Crown preps.
Social Paranoia ($14.60) had not run since capturing the 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Derby on the turf Sept. 8 at Kentucky Downs in what would be his sophomore finale. The winning time was 1:32.81 over a firm turf course in the shortest race since his second career start last August.
Sombeyay, a graded-stakes winner on dirt and turf also trained by Todd Pletcher, finished second ahead of March to the Arch, who went off the 7-2 favorite in a field of 12. A claim of foul for interference by March to the Arch’s jockey Tyler Gaffalione against Social Paranoia was disallowed.
“I thought he got a little too far back early on, but it worked out well,” Pletcher said. “He delivered a big closing kick. He’s a horse we’ve always liked a lot, a lot of quality, beautiful horse. It was nice to see him get back under way today.”
It was defending Appleton champion Dr. Edgar that was hustled to the lead by jockey Paco Lopez, pressed on his right hip by 50-1 long shot Maraud through a quarter-mile in 23.55 seconds. Grade 1 winner El Tormenta, in his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) Nov. 2, made a bold move to get up to second after 50-1 long shot took over the lead following a half in 46.37.
Having saved ground unhurried along the rail in the early going, jockey Florent Geroux angled Social Paranoia to the far outside approaching the stretch and set the Street Boss colt down for an explosive run through the lane to pass all rivals and become a graded winner for the first time after placing in four others including the Belmont Derby (G1).
“He hadn’t run since the race at Kentucky Downs. We gave him a good freshening,” Pletcher said. “Donna Freyer legged him up in Camden [S.C.] and we sent him to Bruce Jackson at Fair Hill [Md.] and [they] did a great job bringing him back to us.”
Sombeyay held on by a head for second over March to the Arch. It was three-quarters of a length back to Hembree in fourth, followed by Dr. Edgar, Maraud, English Bee, Mr Dumas, Ballagh Rocks, Louder Than Bombs, Smart Remark and El Tormenta.
“I thought Sombeyay ran well also,” Pletcher said. “He might have waited a little bit when he got to the lead, but he ran hard like he always does.”
The Appleton, first run in 1952, is named in honor of Arthur Ivar Appleton, the businessman and owner-breeder who founded Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla. and passed away in 2008 at age 92. Among the notable horses he bred are three-time Grade 1-winning millionaire Southern Image and David Junior, a multiple Group 1 winner in Europe that banked more than $4 million in earnings. Bridlewood also raised Smarty Jones, who would go on to win the 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1).
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