10/18/2005 11:00PM

Clement and Nakatani aim for rich three-staeks sweep

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A grand total of $3.5 million is up for grabs in the Grade 1 Canadian International, Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, and Grade 2 Nearctic, all to be run at Woodbine on Sunday.

No trainer or jockey has ever swept the three graded turf stakes, let alone in tandem, but trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Corey Nakatani will be attempting just that on Sunday with Relaxed Gesture, Cassydora, and Steel Light.

Relaxed Gesture runs in the $2 million Canadian International. Cassydora goes in the $1 million E.P. Taylor, and Steel Light is targeting the $500,000 Nearctic. All three checked in on Tuesday morning and were met by assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul, who arrived Monday evening.

Clement has saddled six stakes winners at Woodbine over the years, all the on turf, including three in the Niagara Handicap.

Though the Niagara is a prep for the Canadian International, Relaxed Gesture will be Clement's first entrant in the International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

A 4-year-old homebred who races for Moyglare Stud Farm, Relaxed Gesture has failed to win in his last four starts but was beaten by a total of just over two lengths.

Relaxed Gesture's latest effort was a third-place finish behind defending Breeders' Cup Turf champion Better Talk Now and Canadian International candidate King's Drama in Belmont's Grade 1 Man o' War over 1 3/8 miles of firm turf.

Prior to that, Relaxed Gesture finished second behind King's Drama in Saratoga's Grade 1 Sword Dancer over 1 1/2 miles of turf labeled good.

"He'll run on any kind of ground," said Lorieul.

Cassydora, an English-bred 3-year-old, will be making her debut for Clement and owner Green Hills Farm in the E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

"She's been with us since she came from England in early September," said Lorieul. "We gave her some time, and a couple of works. She seems to be a nice filly."

Cassydora will be looking for her first major stakes win, but she ran well in tough company this summer, finishing second to Alexander Goldrun in the Group 1 Nassau at Goodwood in England and a close third in the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville in France. Both races were at 1 1/4 miles.

"She should like the long stretch here," said Lorieul.

Clement has run horses in four previous E.P. Taylors, finishing second with Tresoriere in 1998 and third with Innuendo in 2000 and Volga in 2002.

Steel Light, a 4-year-old gelding owned and bred by Moyglare Stud Farm, also began his career in Europe and has yet to finish worse than third while winning 2 of 5 starts for Clement.

In his latest, a third-level allowance over seven furlongs of turf at Belmont Sept. 24, Steel Light overcame an awkward beginning to rally for a head victory.

Steel Light will be shortening up to six furlongs for the Nearctic, a Grade 2 turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

"I think this is a very good spot for him," said Lorieul. "At six furlongs he might be outpaced early on, but I think he'll make a big run in the stretch."

Attard sends two maidens in Queen

Saturday's feature, the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, tends to get lost all in the International Day excitement.

But the 1 1/16-mile race certainly will be the highlight of the year for one of the Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies entered to run.

Victorious Ami, last year's Princess Elizabeth winner, was a maiden going into the race.

And one trainer looking to follow that blueprint is Steve Attard, who will send out two maidens, Sweet Breanna and Bajan Princess.

Sweet Breanna, owned by Beclawat Stable, will be making her fourth start and second stakes appearance in the Princess Elizabeth.

After closing strongly to finish fourth in her five-furlong debut, Sweet Breanna stretched out to seven furlongs for the Muskoka - a yearling sales stakes - but again got rolling too late to end up fourth.

In her last start, which came in a maiden special over one mile on yielding turf, Sweet Breanna stalked the pace and was beaten a half-length as the runner-up.

"She ran really good last time, and she wasn't 100 percent right - she had sinus problems," said Attard.

"But she's right now. She's training like a superstar, and the farther the better for her."

Bajan Native, owned by Powerwright Stable, has raced five times and also finished a close second in her last start, beaten a neck in a seven-furlong maiden special.

"I can't see her not going long," said Attard, noting that Bajan Native is a full brother to Arch Hall, who won the Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles here last fall.

Mona Rose wants soft going in Taylor

Mona Rose, a 5-year-old owned and bred by Paul and Frank O'Brien, is scheduled to make her third start for Attard in the E.P. Taylor.

Mona Rose will be making her second appearance in the E.P. Taylor; she ran a troubled fifth last year, when trained by Earl Barnett.

Transferred to the Attard barn late this summer, Mona Rose finished third in the Grade 2 Canadian over 1 1/8 miles on soft turf and most recently ran second as the odds-on choice in a one-mile classified allowance over firm going.

Jim McAleney, who rode Mona Rose for the first time that day, was in the irons when the mare worked four furlongs in 48 seconds with the dogs well out on the E.P. Taylor turf course Monday.

"She's very, very tough to gallop but she's training good, doing everything right," said Attard. "She seems like a horse that loves to run.

"And the softer the going, the better."

* Friday's program is a melange of maidens and claimers, including two races scheduled for turf. A total of 91 horses, including four also-eligibles, were entered on the nine-race card.