Just when Rockemperor appeared on the verge of giving trainer Chad Brown his sixth Manhattan Stakes (G1), stablemate Instilled Regard knifed through between rivals to get up by a neck. Jockey Irad Ortiz’s precision timing netted him his fourth win on the Belmont Park card.
OXO Equine’s Instilled Regard was the slight second choice to Rockemperor as the pair went off at 2-1, and both enjoyed ground-saving trips in the $400,000 event. Rockemperor was perched just behind pacesetter Cross Border through tepid fractions of :24.56, :50.46, and 1:15.93 on the firm inner turf, while Instilled Regard drafted behind him in the next flight.
As the pace-prompting Channel Maker challenged swinging into the stretch, Rockemperor angled out and took aim on the leaders. Veteran closer Sadler’s Joy was also moving into contention, and the typical turf cavalry charge was on. Rockemperor was gradually working his way to the front in deep stretch only to be caught in the final strides.
Instilled Regard, who also shifted out for clear running room, didn’t emerge from the pack until the last possible instant. Bursting onto the scene to split Rockemperor and Sadler’s Joy, the royally bred son of Arch clocked 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.59. According to Trakus, Instilled Regard posted the field-fastest final quarter in :22.31.
“They both got really good trips,” Brown said of his exacta. “Both jockeys (Ortiz on Instilled Regard and Hall of Famer John Velazquez on Rockemperor) did a great job and both horses responded super. It’s unfortunate one of them had to lose. In the end, Instilled Regard just made the last move of the chess match. I’m so proud of the horse. He keeps getting better.”
Ortiz agreed that Instilled Regard, initially a dirt performer who finished fourth in Justify’s Kentucky Derby (G1), is still developing his turf prowess.
“His mind is getting better and better every time he runs on the grass,” Ortiz said. “With this horse, he does everything you want. I like that. I can use it to get in position and he comes back to me so well. He saved all the energy until the end. When I asked him for it, he gave it. I had to work so hard but when I tipped him out, he responded so well. I knew I had a chance to get there, and he got there on time.”
Sadler’s Joy wasn’t helped by the sit-sprint race shape, or a wide trip. Covering 25 feet more than Instilled Regard, and 23 more than Rockemperor, he still rattled off a :22.48 final quarter for a meritorious third, just a half-length off the runner-up. This marked his third Manhattan placing, after a neck second in 2018 and a third in 2017. The 7-year-old missed last year’s running when getting a belated start to his 2019 campaign.
Channel Maker edged Cross Border in fourth. Next came Spooky Channel, Brown’s other runner Devamani, and Dot Matrix.
Instilled Regard is nearing the $1 million threshold with earnings of $983,240 from an 18-5-3-4 line. Originally in the care of Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, the dark bay placed in the 2017 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and captured the Lecomte (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He switched barns after his fine effort in the Run for the Roses. Instilled Regard’s resume for Brown includes victories in the 2019 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) and the June 6 Fort Marcy (G2) last out, as well as thirds in the 2018 Hollywood Derby (G1) and the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) earlier this season.
The $1.05 million OBS March juvenile was bred by KatieRich Farms in Kentucky. His dam, the Phipps blueblood Enhancing (by Forestry), is a three-quarter sister to millionaire Good Reward (by Storm Cat) who took the 2005 Manhattan. They are out of Hall of Famer Heavenly Prize, also responsible for Grade 2-winning sire Pure Prize.
Instilled Regard had seen his form boosted earlier on the card when Social Paranoia, sixth in the Fort Marcy, rebounded on the cutback to a mile in the $150,000 Poker Stakes (G3). Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz, the 9-2 chance rallied from well off a slow pace to defeat Seismic Wave by a length.
Dream Friend tried to make the most of being lone speed through splits of :24.50 and :49.28 on the firm Widener turf, but could not go on. Got Stormy pounced from her stalking spot to take command when reaching 6 furlongs in 1:13.07, only to stall herself on ground that was described as having residual moisture.
Hawkish didn’t have much luck attempting to thread his way through in the stretch, and there was scrimmaging with Value Proposition. Meanwhile, Seismic Wave, who had uncorked a big circling move from last, was bearing down wider out. Then Social Paranoia kicked on to overtake them all in 1:36.30.
The messy stretch run prompted a stewards’ inquiry as well as a claim of foul by Hawkish’s jockey, Manny Franco, against Irad Ortiz on third-placer Value Proposition. He survived the objection to retain the show spot, a half-length up on Got Stormy in fourth. Dream Friend retreated to a dead-heat fifth with the troubled Hawkish, followed by Eons and Valid Point. The main-track-only Its All Relevant stayed in the barn.
“I thought we were a tick further back than I thought we would be,” Pletcher said of Social Paranoia, “and they were going a tick slower than I had hoped. I thought we made a mistake last time in trying to use him a little bit early on to get into position from the outside post going a mile-and-an-eighth (in the Fort Marcy).
“He showed us in his first start back at Gulfstream (his victory in the Mar. 28 Appleton [G3]) that he just wants to settle and make one run. Jose executed the plan very well and it was a good performance.”
The Elkstone Group’s Social Paranoia improved his mark to 15-4-4-5, $929,710. The Street Boss colt placed in a series of stakes – the 2018 Pilgrim (G3) and 2019 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), American Turf (G2), and Pennine Ridge (G3) – before breaking through in course-record time in the Sept. 8 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs. He made it two straight in the Appleton before a third in Gulfstream’s Sunshine Forever and the subpar effort in the Fort Marcy.
Bred by Mineola Farm II and Silent Grove Farm in the Bluegrass, Social Paranoia sold for $75,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling. His dam, the Deputy Minister mare Shutterbug, is a half to multiple Grade 3 scorer Fantastic Fellow. Further back, this is the family of 1980 Epsom Derby (G1) victor Henbit and Grade 1 winners Mr Purple and Queens Court Queen.