Notes & Quotes From the Dueling Grounds Derby & Oaks: Social Paranoia & Princesa Carolina

(Social Paranoia wins the Dueling Grounds Derby on Sunday / Coady Photography & Courtesy of KY Downs)

From the KY Downs Media Team:

Jockey Jose Ortiz missed opening day of the five-date RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, but the track’s 2018 riding champion has made the most of the three days he has ridden, including sweeping Sunday’s $600,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby under Social Paranoia and the $348,250 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks with Princesa Carolina.

Ortiz won three races Sunday, seven over the weekend and a meet-leading eighth overall while scheduled to ride all 10 races on Thursday’s closing card of America’s most unique race meet. Last year, Ortiz won nine races, the most in a single meet since Florent Geroux won 12 in 2016.

Jockey Jose Ortiz — Social Paranoia & Princesa Carolina (1st):

“What can I say? It’s awesome,” Ortiz said.

About Social Paranoia:

“Lovely trip all the way around there,” Ortiz said. “He relaxed well, that’s the most important thing. He got up the hill beautiful, down the hill beautiful, and then I had to work my way out from the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole, follow the two leaders. Finally, I knew when Chris (Landeros, on Ry’s the Guy) would make his horse to switch leads, I would have an opening. And when he did…

“His horse ran a huge, huge race to be in second.”

“Great job by Todd and his team,” Ortiz said. “The horse was ready. I was just a passenger out there. I tried to give him the best trip I can, and that’s what I did.”

About Princesa Carolina:

“I took her back and went wide, but I had a lot of horse to be honest,” he said. “She’s a really nice filly.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher — Social Paranoia:

“He’s always trained like a nice horse, always run well on both surfaces,” trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s Dueling Grounds Derby with Channel Cat, said by phone from Lexington. “He’s obviously been really holding up with top competition. We felt like he’d handle the course, hoped to get an inside draw and a good trip and it worked out.”

Maybe that and “we were aggressive with him also, ran him in a stakes as a maiden,” Pletcher said, referencing a third place in the Grade 3 Pilgrim. “But he’d always impressed us in his training that he was a quality horse, so I was happy to see him get that breakthrough win today.”

Assistant Trainer Amelia Green — Social Paranoia:

“He’s only actually been out of the placings once, when he was fourth” in the Saratoga Derby in his last start, Green said. “But he trained over it the other day and he loved it. He had his ears pricked. So I said to Jose when he got on him, ‘He loved this track when he galloped over it, so I don’t think you’ll have any problems.’

“I remember when he first came in. He was very heavy as a 2-year-old, and I think it just took him a while to get fit. But he’s definitely doing good now.”

Jockey Chris Landeros — Ry’s the Guy (2nd in DG Derby):

“I had a great trip, perfect trip, ran hard,” Landeros said. “First time going long like this might have gotten to him a little bit late. I think we’re on the right track. This one (Social Paranoia) has had a little experience going those longer distances than me. Might have been the difference today. But I’m pretty excited.”

Trainer Ken McPeek — Princesa Carolina (1st in DG Oaks):

“We felt like this distance would do her good, too, the extra ground,” McPeek said. “She’s got a big long hip on her, she’ll run all day. We’ve kind of been waiting for this race to some extent all summer and into the fall here. But a great run. We were a little frustrated: stakes-placed Tapit filly or stakes-winning Tapit filly out of that family. Hopefully we can come back in the QEII.

“She’s had a good season, and hopefully she’s got another good one in her.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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