by Keith McCalmont
The Elkstone Group’s Social Paranoia closed from out of the clouds to capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Poker, a one-mile turf test for older horses on Runhappy Met Mile Day at Belmont Park.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Street Boss colt was turning back in distance following an off-the-board effort in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Fort Marcy on June 6 at Belmont.
Jockey Jose Ortiz guided Social Paranoia to victory in the Grade 3 Appleton on March 28 at Gulfstream Park in his seasonal debut and was reunited with the versatile dark bay on Saturday as Dream Friend set swift splits of 24.50 seconds and 49.28 on the firm Widener turf.
Multiple Grade 1-winning mare Got Stormy, with Hall of Famer John Velazquez up, tracked from second position with Valid Point to his inside. Got Stormy took aim at the pacesetter into the turn with Seismic Wave and Value Proposition, the 5-2 mutuel favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., launching their bids.
Social Paranoia, distanced in seventh through three-quarters, was tipped out wide for the stretch run by Ortiz and quickly circled the pack with Hawkish, piloted by Manny Franco, trying an inside charge at the leaders.
Ortiz and Social Paranoia soon took command while Hawkish, full of run, failed to find a hole outside a fading Got Stormy and inside a lugging in Value Proposition. Social Paranoia, in the clear, found the wire first by one length in a final time of 1:36.30.