07/13/2005 11:00PM

It's Relaxed Gesture's time

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Adam Coglianese
Relaxed Gesture (second from left), second in the Manhattan to Good Reward (right), appears set for a big effort.

Kitten's Joy is preparing for the Arlington Million and is taking a pass Saturday. So are Grade 1 winners Good Reward, Magistretti, and Meteor Storm. All of which means that Saturday's Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park is an opportunity for someone new to grab the spotlight, and Relaxed Gesture - based on his runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan last month - looks like he might be that someone.

heads a field of 11 in the $150,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf. Trained by Christophe Clement, Relaxed Gesture showed enough talent in Europe two years ago as a 2-year-old that his trainer at the time, Dermot Weld, shipped him to Santa Anita for the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he ran eighth behind the winning Action This Day.

Relaxed Gesture ran only once at 3, finishing second to the highly regarded Yeats. He resurfaced this spring in the United States under the care of Clement, and won allowance races at Keeneland in April and Belmont in May.

That earned him a start in the Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day June 11, and after stalking the pace he looked finished when shuffled back to seventh going to the far turn. But he got back into stride, found clear sailing, and came home strong to lose to perfect-trip winner Good Reward by only a half-length. Relaxed Gesture's Beyer Speed Figure of 105 makes him the horse to beat in the Bowling Green. Brice Blanc, who rode Relaxed Gesture in his last three starts, again has the call.

The Bowling Green highweight is , trained by Bobby Frankel, who is winning with 31 percent of his starters at the meet.

After some success in England, Exterior came to the U.S. this spring and won an allowance race at Santa Anita, then ran a fast-closing second in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano. After that, he ran third in the Grade 3 Jim Murray at Hollywood Park.

Frankel gave Exterior almost two months off and brought him back at Monmouth on July 2, running against defending Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now. Exterior sat far back early and closed to finish fifth, beaten less than three lengths by the race-winning Better Talk Now. This spot likely isn't as tough, so Exterior is eligible to do better.

Another Bowling Green contender, , won the Grade 2 Red Smith and Grade 2 W.L. McKnight last winter. He was gone for six months but returned with a decent third on June 25 and might be set for a top effort. He is cross-entered in Sunday's Cape Henlopen at Delaware.