Diana & Sanford
Saratoga Opening Day
Yellow Ribbon Hcp.
Fiona Craig of Moyglare Stud leads Relaxed Gesture with Corey Nakatani up after winning the Canadian International.
Until recently, the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International was scheduled early in October as a major prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Citing concerns over short fields, Woodbine Entertainment Group decided to move it back to its traditional late October date, and this year, increased its purse to $2 million Canadian ($1.7 million US). A field of ten top older turf horses from North America and Europe went to post in this 1 1/2 mile trip around the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. A steady rain all day Saturday and light showers on Sunday rendered the course yielding for this event, contested under a dark overcast sky with light drizzle and a race time temperature of 44 degrees.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite was Electrocutionist, coming off a win in the Juddmonte International at York. Also in the field were 4-1 second choice Yeats, winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom, and 5-1 third choice King's Drama, from the powerful barn of Bobby Frankel with jockey John Velazquez in from New York for the ride.
When the gate opened, Yeats was slowest out of the gate, but was hustled by jockey Kieren Fallon to contest the pace set by King's Drama who led the field through early fractions of 24.66, 49.64, 1:14.09, and 1:39.25 for the long backstretch trip. Turning for home, the pacesetters both tired and dropped out of contention, setting the race up for the closers. 14-1 shot Meteor Storm, who had settled back as far as sixth early, closed on the leaders three-wide around the turn, and was 2 1/2 lengths clear with a quarter mile to go, completing ten furlongs in 2:06.08. However, Relaxed Gesture was just hitting his best stride. Jockey Corey Nakatani angled him out to the seven path and asked him for run, as the 11-1 shot rallied willingly early in the lane, grabbing the lead with 3/16 of a mile to go, and powering away to a convincing 4 1/2 lengths at the line, in a slow time of 2:32.64 over the yielding course. It was just a neck back to 7-1 shot Grey Swallow in third, who was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of the favored Electrocutionist in fourth.
As winner Relaxed Gesture paraded around for the crowd, the inquiry sign was flashed up, and the stewards disqualified Grey Swallow from third and placed him fourth. His jockey Patrick Smullen apparently hit Electrocutionist with his whip during the stretch run. There was a claim of interference in the stretch by the assistant trainer of fifth place finisher Simonas against Grey Swallow, but this was disallowed.
Purse: $2,000,000 Distance: 1 1/2 miles turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Relaxed Gesture Nakatani 24.40 9.70 5.20 10 Meteor Storm Castellano 11.50 6.60 3 Electrocutionist Kinane 2.80
Relaxed Gesture is paraded for the fans after the race. Jockey Corey Nakatani said, "The trip went perfect, couldn't have had it any better. I knew he'd put in one solid kick in the end if I just sat back with him early and he did it for me When you get on a good horse like this, it makes your job easy."
Relaxed Gesture in the winner's circle with trainer Christophe Clement on the far left. Clement said, "We decided to come to the (Pattison Canadian) International instead of the Breeders Cup just because we thought we had a better chance to win it here and it worked out. (Nakatani) relaxed him early on, it didn't matter if he was inside or outside, as long as you had the horse relaxed early on, on the turf, he usually finished. He was going very well, but he was not finished (running) because 1 1/2 was a bit a concern on the turf."
The trophy presentation with jockey Corey Nakatani, Moyglare representative Fiona Craig, and trainer Christophe Clement. Ms. Craig said, "He injured himself (pelvis) training up to the French Derby, so we had to put him away for a full year. Chris (Clement) brought him here in great shape, but we had a whole team in Ireland to get him here off that injury. Our veterinarian did it the old fashioned way, time. Took the time to let him heal himself, and here he is."
Winning jockey Corey Nakatani poses with the trophy. He said, "He handled (the turf) very well. And that is a tribute to what Chris (Clement) has done with him. Last time I was at Belmont and we tried a little bit of a different strategy. My main concern today was to try to get him to relax and to make sure he had a big kick and he did. I wasn't too worried about (the pace), he was going so well underneath me, I was very patient, I was turning home and I was still waiting, I went by everybody and I made sure that I put them all away. He was much the best. He ran a big race." Nakatani and Clement teamed up to capture two of the three stakes races on the card, having won the Nearctic with Steel Light.
Second place finisher Meteor Storm in the post parade. His jockey Javier Castellano said, "Perfect. I'm very happy with the horse. He ran a huge race. He handled the track very well. I think he ran second best today. The winner was tough. He was the best horse today. He passed by and he opened up on us. But my horse battled hard to the end."
Third place finisher (moved up from 4th by a disqualification) and beaten favorite Electrocutionist in the post parade. His jockey Mick Kinane said, "He likes a quicker surface. He struggled a bit with the ground. He didn't travel the way I'd like or the way he would on a quicker surface. I was disappointed with him going down the backstretch. I though he should have been going a bit nicer. They had gone a really good pace and I should have been arriving on better than I was at the time. The winner was just laying on me a bit in the (early part of the) straight. But he was going too good for me."
Third place finisher Grey Swallow, who was disqualified to 4th) in the post parade. His jockey Pat Smullen said, "He ran a very brave race. I was pleased with him. At the top of the stretch, I realized the winner was going amazingly well and my horse didn't have the toe to catch him."
The jockeys for the 68th running of the Canadian International. From left to right: Javier Castellano, Kieren Fallon, Todd Kabel, John Velazquez, Corey Fraser, Jono Jones, Corey Nakatani, Mick Kinane, Pat Smullen, Eduardo Pedroza.
E.P. Taylor Stakes Results plus the Nearctic Handicap
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