10/20/2005 11:00PM

Electrocutionist heads mighty cast

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Simonas gallops Friday at Woodbine for Sunday's Canadian International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The glory years of the Grade 1 came in the 1970's, when it was won by the likes Secretariat, Dahlia, and Exceller.

The International went through a period when it failed to attract any of the world's top grass horses, but that era ended last year, when Sulamani won impressively. Its resurgence continues Sunday at Woodbine, when a superior field, including the once-beaten European sensation Electrocutionist, will run for a record purse of $2 million.

The 68th running of the International heads a superb 11-race card, which includes two other turf stakes, the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor and the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic.

Owned by Earle Mack and trained by Valfredo Valiani, Electrocutionist has 6 wins in 7 career starts. He is coming off an eye-catching victory under jockey Mick Kinane going 1 5/16 miles in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York, in which he was last in the field before overhauling Japan Cup winner Zenno Rob Roy and favored Ace in the final strides.

Valiani believes Electrocutionist is perfectly suited to the 1 1/2-mile distance of the International, and he said the 4-year-old can be placed almost anywhere in a race.

"He's an easy horse," Valiani said. "Kinane can do whatever he'd like with him, and I'm not going to tell him what to do. He's not terribly fast at the beginning, but he's not a slow one."

Valiani said a lack of experience hindered Electrocutionist when he lost a Group 1 race by a nose to Shirocco in Italy last October.

"All his races before that, he won for fun - he never had to fight another horse," Valiani said. "The [soft] ground favored Shirocco, who is a very good horse."

The other Europeans in the lineup are Yeats, Simonas, and Grey Swallow.

Yeats is trained by Aidan O'Brien, who captured the 2002 International with another son of Sadler's Wells, Ballingarry. Yeats set a dawdling pace en route to a daylight score in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in June. Most recently, he finished a troubled fourth at the Curragh in the Group 1 Irish St. Leger, the same race in which Ballingarry ran third prior to his International tally.

"He was very unlucky in the Irish Leger," O'Brien said. "He just didn't get to run."

Simonas was a surprising second in the 2004 Canadian International, finishing 1 1/2 lengths back of Sulamani at 21-1. He has been campaigned exclusively in Germany this year, with his lone win coming by disqualification in a Group 2 stakes in June.

Trainer Andreas Wohler said Simonas is in good order.

"If everything goes right, he should run a good race," Wohler said. "He's not the type of horse who goes near the pace. He always comes from behind."

Grey Swallow, the 2004 Irish Derby winner, has run two subpar races since his upset victory over Bago and Ace in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May.

According to his connections, Grey Swallow prefers soft turf. There is rain in the forecast for the weekend, but the course was hard earlier this week, and it would require quite a bit of precipitation to soften it up significantly.

King's Drama, Relaxed Gesture, and Meteor Storm make up a fine U.S. contingent.

King's Drama, an Irish-bred trained by Bobby Frankel, was a fading fifth in last year's International, which was his worst showing in North America. He won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer two starts back at Saratoga, and is exiting a neck loss to Better Talk Now in the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont.

"I feel better about his chances this year," Frankel said. "I think he'll be up close to the pace. I don't know if he likes a bog, but I think a little cut in the ground is not going to hurt him."

Relaxed Gesture has placed in four graded stakes since capturing back-to-back allowances in the spring. He lost by three-quarters of a length in each of his last two outings, the Sword Dancer and the Man o' War.

Meteor Storm chased home possible Breeders' Cup Turf favorite Shakespeare in each of his two most recent starts, including a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Belmont BC Handicap.

Woodbine-based runners Jamba-laya, Strut the Stage, and Last Answer have their work cut out for them.

Jambalaya, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes in August, is coming off a gutsy triumph in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

The field

Pattison Canadian International
Purse: $2 million; 1 1/2 miles, turf; Grade 1

1SimonasE. Pedroza12612-1
2Grey SwallowP. Smullen1268-1
3ElectrocutionistM. Kinane1262-1
4Relaxed GestureC. Nakatani1268-1
5JambalayaJ. Jones11920-1
6Last AnswerC. Fraser12640-1
7King's DramaJ. Velazquez1267-2
8Strut the StageT. Kabel12630-1
9YeatsK. Fallon1264-1
10Meteor StormJ. Castellano12612-1

* Odds by Ron Gierkink
* Television: Sunday, 3-5 p.m. Eastern, The Score (Canada Only)