Set Play wins Del Mar Debutante


Last updated 11/9/2007 at Noon

Set Play, a two-year-old filly stabled at the San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred Training Center, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante stakes race September 3 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Set Play, who is trained by Peter Miller and owned by Gerson Racing and Charleville Stables, finished two lengths in front of second-place Spring Awakening in the seven-furlong race for two-year-old fillies. Set Play, who was ridden by jockey Brice Blanc, earned $150,000 of the total $250,000 purse.

“Couldn’t be happier,” said owner Sean Gerson. “It was a dream run by the horse. She’s a really good filly.”

Set Play began her racing career June 17 in a maiden special weight race at Hollywood Park. She won that 5 1/2-furlong race, and on June 30 she finished third in the ungraded Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park, although she led in the stretch. On August 8 she raced in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar and finished second.

“She moved too early in the Landaluce and she showed too much [early] speed to my liking in the Sorrento,” Miller said. “We’ve been trying to get her to relax and not move too early.”

Set Play drew the ninth post position among the 12 horses in the race and broke third. At one-quarter of a mile she was in fourth place, 4 1/2 lengths behind leader Ever So Pretty. At half a mile she was still in fourth but had closed the gap between Ever So Pretty and herself to two lengths.

Set Play was in the lead, 1 1/2 lengths in front of second-place Comical Vacation, by the time she reached the stretch. Comical Vacation was ridden by Michael Baze, whoh ad been Set Play’s jockey in the Sorrento Stakes. The ride on Set Play was the first for Blanc.

“I’d worked this filly three times and I was delighted when Peter told me that the owners had talked and they said they liked what I did with her and they wanted me to ride,” Blanc said. “I’ve got to thank Peter and note that he’s done a wonderful job with her.”

“Brice rode her perfectly and did a fantastic job,” Miller said. “He kind of knew, we had mapped out our game plan together and he followed it perfectly.”

Set Play had a winning time of 1:26.79.

“She came out of the race perfect. She’s doing great,” Miller said.

“She was ready to run today. I had a great trip. We were outside and just going nice and easy in a beautiful position,” Blanc said. “When the leaders started to come back to us, she was ready to go. I waited as long as I could, then I asked her and she was very game.”

“It was exciting. It was wonderful,” Miller said about his first Grade I stakes win. “To win a Grade 1 at Del Mar is just unbelievable.”

“I was in shock,” Gerson said.

“I knew the horse had talent. All the time the horse has had talent,” Gerson said. “Everything fell into place real well.”

The win gave Miller 11 victories during the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club meet. “It was just a terrific day for everybody involved,” Gerson said. “Del Mar was a great meet for everybody.”

The win was also the first stakes win of the meet for Blanc. “Brice is a magician at getting horses to relax,” Miller said.

Set Play, the offspring of Van Nistelrooy and Boldy’s Reflection, was foaled in Florida on March 7, 2005. In March 2007 Gerson Racing and Charleville Stables purchased her at the Ocala Breeders Sale for $105,000.

At the end of the meet a poll of media members selected Set Play as the top two-year-old filly of the meet. “That was kind of exciting,” Gerson said. “That was kind of neat. I didn’t know they had honors like that.”

Set Play’s next expected race is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race October 27 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.


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