10/19/2006 12:00AM

Clement has realistic shot at turf sweep


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Christophe Clement enjoyed a lucrative afternoon here at Woodbine last Oct. 23, sending out Relaxed Gesture to upset the $2 million Canadian International after watching Steel Light take the $500,000 Nearctic.

This year, Clement will be hoping to go one better when he sends out Relaxed Gesture for the Grade 1 Canadian International, Naissance Royale for the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor. and In Summation for the Grade 2 Nearctic,

Clement, who also was represented in last year's $1 million E.P. Taylor by the unsuccessful Cassydora, again will be looking to become the first trainer to sweep the three races.

Corey Nakatani was Clement's rider here last year, but Garrett Gomez will come up from New York this weekend.

And, believe it or not, the unprecedented triple for both trainer and jockey does not seem to be beyond the realm of possibility.

Relaxed Gesture, a 5-year-old horse, came into last year's 1 1/2-mile Canadian International off losing races in the Manhattan, Bowling Green, Sword Dancer and Man o' War in which he was beaten a total of slightly more than two lengths.

Following an unproductive trip to Dubai this past March, Relaxed Gesture returned in Belmont's Manhattan and finished second for the second straight season, beaten a head.

After finishing third in Monmouth's United Nations, Relaxed Gesture raced back in the Sword Dancer and Man o' War, but his performances were not up to his 2005 standard, as Relaxed Gesture finished fifth on each occasion.

"Unfortunately, his last two races have been a little disappointing," acknowledged Clement, from his Belmont Park base. "Obviously, I would have preferred for him to run better, but I think it was because of the way the races were run."

Relaxed Gesture had a strange trip in the Sword Dancer, where he led early but was dragged back off a slow pace and was empty late while beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

In the Man o' War, Relaxed Gesture rallied wide behind another slow pace and was beaten 4 1/4 lengths in his first race under Gomez.

"He looks very well, and he's trained very well," said Clement. "Obviously he liked the turf course at Woodbine last year; it quite agreed with him. And, soft turf would be good for him."

Last year's Canadian International was run over a course that was rated yielding but produced times more indicative of softer going.

The turf was rated soft on Thursday morning, and if the weather forecasts hold, then Sunday's conditions could prove to be quite similar.

Naissance Royale, a 4-year-old filly, also has winning experience over the Woodbine turf course, having shipped up to take the Grade 2 Nassau over 1 1/16 miles of soft going here June 3.

The runner-up there was E.P. Taylor entrant Ambitious Cat, who came back to win the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly here July 15 and finish fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Canadian here Sept. 17.

Naissance Royale, meanwhile, has started just once since the Nassau, finishing fourth as the odds-on choice in the 1 1/8-mile Omnibus at Monmouth.

"She was unfit," said Clement. "She's improved since the race. She's a fresh horse, she's sound, she looks well.

"And, she's going the right way, because she's improving, and I always like to be ambitious when they're improving."

Naissance Royale's only previous try at 1 1/4 miles came prior to her relocation to North America and resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp in May 2005.

Clement, however, does not see the E.P. Taylor distance as an obstacle and is putting his faith in Gomez, who will be riding the filly for the first time.

"He's very good, and he's very patient," said Clement.

Naissance Royale will open at 20-1 and start from post 6 in the E.P. Taylor, which attracted a field of 11.

Angara, Barancella, Latice, Ready's Gal, Live Life, and Aubonne round out a strong U.S. contingent.

Arravale and Ambitious Cat are the local hopefuls and will be well supported.

Red Bloom, an English invader who is the 2-1 morning-line choice, breezed four furlongs on the turf in 52.60 seconds here Thursday morning.

Almerita, a German filly who stayed on here after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Canadian, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands for the first time in the E.P. Taylor.

In Summation takes to turf

Patience also may be a virtue when it comes to the six-furlong Nearctic, in which Gomez will make his first appearance aboard In Summation in what looms as a wild and woolly contest with a field of 13.

In Summation, a 3-year-old colt, was just making his first start for Clement and his first on turf when second, beaten a neck, in the five-furlong Restoration at Monmouth on Sept. 24.

That race was the first for In Summation since April 1, when he ran fourth in the 6 1/2-furlong Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream.

"He has a lot of talent, but he's had very bad feet," said Clement. "That's the reason we switched him to turf.

"He worked very well on the grass, and we're very happy with his first performance. He came out of it well and trained well, and he looked good."

While Relaxed Gesture and Naissance Royale checked in Wednesday from Belmont, In Summation arrived at Woodbine on Thursday from his Saratoga base.

"We've worked him at Saratoga, on softer grass, and he seemed to be okay on it," said Clement.

In Summation will break from post 10 in the Nearctic, whose field comprises shippers, two from Ireland and the balance from the United States.