Social Paranoia showcases Pegasus claims

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Trainer Todd Pletcher will have “an eye on the Pegasus Turf” after Social Paranoia returned from a layoff with a gutsy success at Gulfstream Park.

Next month’s $1m Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational back at the Hallandale Beach layout now looks a worthwhile target after Social Paranoia returned from a five-month absence to justify strong market support in winning a 7½-furlong optional claiming allowance on turf.

The four-year-old son of Street Boss was the even-money favourite to win and his trainer was thrilled with the effort.

“It’s always nice to have a win off a layoff like that. He came back and we got a quality win out of him. We were hoping for a good effort,” Pletcher said. “We’ll see how he comes out of it and maybe keep an eye on the Pegasus Turf.”

The Irad Ortiz-ridden Social Paranoia came wide on the home bend from off the early pace and outfought Olympic Runner to score his return win. It was Social Paranoia’s third win in four starts on the Gulfstream turf, with the Grade 3 Appleton on his CV already.

His latest success means Social Paranoia has joined another Pletcher inmate, Largent, winner of last Saturday’s Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale also at Gulfstream, on the list of Pegasus Turf candidates for the yard.

The four-year-old is owned by Elkstone Group and his connections were thrilled with the return win, complimenting Pletcher on an excellent preparation.

“It feels great. Todd did a great job getting him ready, but he’s won on the layoff before, so I was very confident in Todd,” said The Elkstone Group’s Stuart Grant. “We’re very excited. As you know we have our eye on late January back here and I think he showed that he deserved a spot there. This is his third win out of four [on Gulfstream turf].”

Pletcher gained his only success so far in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational when Mshawish was ridden to glory by Javier Castellano in 2015, when the race was still run under the moniker of the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Bricks And Mortar (Chad Brown) and Zula Alpha (Mike Maker) have scooped the wins since the race was rebranded in 2019 and it is now run over a one-mile-one-and-a-half-furlong distance.

Given his impressive track record on the turf at the Florida layout, Pletcher and the Elkstone Group will be eager to see how Social Paranoia can fare out next month.