Set piece scores second-placed Pimlico Stakes in BWI Turf Cup (G3)

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BALTIMORE, Md. — Juddmonte wins multiple graded stakes home breeding set piece (EN), Returning to the site of his most recent victory, he repeated the effort four months later with a victory from last to first over 1½ lengths in Saturday’s $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3), at the historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 14thth Running the one-mile BWI Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and older was the final of four appearances worth $475,000 in purses after Swayin to and Fro won $75,000 Shine Again, $100,000 All Along, where In A Rush gave her a first stakes win and $100,000 Lite the Fuse won in a breakaway by Sibelius.

Ridden by Sheldon Russell for Brad Cox, the two-time defending champion and Eclipse Award winner, Set Piece completed the distance in 1:35.70 on a fixed course. Pao Alto, a Group Stakes winner in France and Qatar, finished second, a half-length ahead of 8-5 favorites Public Sector.

“It’s his race, so to speak. He’s not super fast but he comes running at the end,” said Cox’s assistant Katie Tolbert. “You just have to keep him kind of relaxed and save some ground and find a good spot. He loves it here. He ran great here at Preakness weekend. It’s kind of his race and Sheldon rode him perfectly. We are super happy with him.”

Set Piece rallied to win the 1 1/16 mile dinner party (G2) on the May 21 undercard of the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) and had since finished the board in the Forbidden Apple (G3) and Arlington Million (G1), the latter on August 13 after a slow start over a surface rated as good.

First on board, Russell was unhurried and behind the field at Set Piece as Class 3 winner Bizzee Channel, riding for the first time from the claim for owner trainer Lacey Gaudet, completed the first quarter mile in 24.05 seconds and one Half completed in 48.26 down from 21-1 Totale English Tavern. Russell began to move around the corner on Set Piece and headed home, aiming for the lead and rolling around the track to overtake horses on the outside.

A very intense Sheldon Russell gives a brilliant hand ride from the pace to victory at Set Piece. Photo by Maryland Jockey Club

“There wasn’t much pace on paper and I think that was my biggest concern. They went a lot faster than I thought,” said Russell. “I thought Lacey’s horse was the only one that would show any speed. [Set Piece] was nice and relaxed and I was never really concerned because he caught up with her every furlong.

“At the half-mile pole I had a double handful and it was all about whether or not I could keep him in check. I took him outside and he took off,” he added. “Very very nice. I think it helped that he won that course before. I was really lucky and lucky to be able to ride him today.”

Stakes winner Sifting Sands, the Chad Brown-trained public sector stablemate who was undefeated in three starts at a mile, finished fourth, followed by English Tavern and English Channel. Field Pass, the defending BWI Turf Cup champion, was scratched.

For Set Piece, a 6-year-old Dansili son bred in England, it was the sixth stakes win of his career and the third in judged company. It was Russell’s first stakes win since returning in July after a 10-month absence through injury. He finished first at the English Tavern in Prince George’s County at Laurel Park on July 16, but the horse was disqualified for handicap and placed second.

Represented by Agent Marty Leonard, Russell rode in all four outings on Saturday, finishing second with Grade 3 winner Jaxon Traveler in the Lite the Fuse, third on Lake Lucerne in the All Along and eighth aboard the Peyton Elizabeth in the Shine Again.

“It’s always nice. [Set Piece] is a really, really nice horse,” said Russell. “Today I had some really good chances and to be fair all the horses did well, they might have found a better one. He gave me a great trip. Many thanks to Brad and his team and to Juddmonte for the opportunity and fair play to my agent for putting me on this type of horse.

“After every race I turn to the next page and it’s just a better horse, a bigger race, another opportunity,” he added. “That was the biggest of the day so this one counts and this one felt good.”

The BWI Turf Cup began in 2005 as the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs. It was shortened to one mile and renamed the Commonwealth Cup after being moved to Laurel Park in 2015 and held as the Commonwealth Turf Cup in 2016 and under its current name since 2017. The race was not held in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic changed the schedule.

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

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