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LOUISVILLE, KY – Juddmonte’s Set Piece won the 16th running of the $105,734 Opening Verse Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up Thursday by 1 1/4 lengths.
Set Piece surged to the front in deep stretch to post his second victory at Churchill Downs in 3 grass starts.
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Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, Set Piece covered the mile in 1:38.26 over a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as good. It is the second victory in the Opening Verse for Geroux, who took the 2015 renewal aboard The Pizza Man.
“He broke a step slow, but he’s never been a good gate horse,” Geroux said. “He’s always a little bit sluggish getting away from there. I just wanted to be able to save ground and take my time. It looked like on paper there was a bunch of speed horses in there, … so I thought they would go an honest pace. He ran a great race here last year in the spring, so I was confident with him.”
Set Piece is a 5-year-old son of Dansili out of the Kingmambo mare Portodora. The victory improved his record to 14-7-1-1 and increased his earnings to $211,474 with Thursday’s $54,126 check.
Set Piece returned $7.80, $4 and $3.60. Snapper Sinclair, who rallied for second under Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $5 and $3.80 with Gray’s Fable paying $5.40 to show under John Velazquez.
“He’s a really nice horse that we got last year from Juddmonte after he raced in Europe to begin his career,” Cox said. “We had a little bit of concern going into this race because of the course condition, but Florent got him into a great spot around the turn and he ran a top effort.”
Sugoi finished fourth and was followed in order by Logical Myth, Captivating Moon, Sayyaaf and Spectacular Gem.
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