Updated on 09/17/2011 10:36PM

New Yorkers handle soft turf best of all


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Canadian International Day turned out to be cold and rainy, with the going generously rated as yielding on Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course.

And while that might have appeared to play right into the hands of the European shippers, it was New York-based horses who took home the lion's share of the spoils from Sunday's three major turf events.

Relaxed Gesture and Meteor Storm, both shipping in from Belmont, finished one-two in the Grade 1, $2 million at 1 1/2 miles.

Honey Ryder and Latice, who had been training in Saratoga over the summer, ran one-two in the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.

Steel Light, also in from Belmont, won the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic over six furlongs.

Both Relaxed Gesture and Steel Light are trained by Christophe Clement and were ridden by Corey Nakatani.

Relaxed Gesture, a 4-year-old colt owned and bred by the Moyglare Stud Farm of 94-year-old Walter Haefner, started out in Ireland with trainer Dermot Weld. But, while pointing for the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) as a

3-year-old, Relaxed Gesture suffered a serious pelvic injury and disappeared from view.

When Relaxed Gesture did resurface he was in the United States, with Clement as his new trainer.

"He came over last October," said Fiona Craig, here representing the Moyglare outfit, also the owners and breeders of Steel Light.

Relaxed Gesture began his new career with back-to-back allowance wins but came into the Canadian International off four consecutive narrow defeats in top New York company.

"This horse has been very consistent all year long," said Clement, who could have kept Relaxed Gesture home for the Breeders' Cup Turf but believed the colt had a better shot at gaining an elusive Grade 1 stakes win in the Canadian International.

The change in venue may have helped, but a change in tactics probably was equally important to Relaxed Gesture's success.

"It was a question mark if he could stay a mile and a half on that kind of ground," said Clement. "He has always been pretty close to the pace on firmer turf.

"On the soft turf the more you wait, the more relaxed you are, the better your finishing kick. They went a decent pace here; plenty fast enough."

While some may argue the general theory, none would dispute its applicability on this occasion as Relaxed Gesture came from ninth place in the field of 10 and blew away his opposition with a wide rally that led to a 4 1/2-length victory.

"He will probably get a well-deserved break now," said Clement.

Meteor Storm, who also had been knocking heads with the best in New York, came north for reasons similar to the winner's and lost no luster in defeat.

Owned by The Horizon Stable and trained by Wally Dollase, Meteor Storm's career is winding down at age 6. He is headed for the breeding shed pending the right offer.

Grey Swallow, expected to relish the soft going, ended another neck back in third but was demoted to fourth place after the stewards initiated an inquiry and found that his rider, Patrick Smullen, had accidentally struck fourth-place finisher, Electrocutionist, with his whip. While the incident did not call for an automatic disqualification, the stewards ruled that it could have cost Electrocutionist a placing, hence the change in the order of finish.

Electrocutionist's trainer, Valfredo Valliani, and Aaron Cohen, racing manager for owner Earle Mack, said they believed their colt could have finished second without the interference.

"It takes him a while to get into gear," said Valliani. "He was just getting going at that point."

Neither Valliani nor Cohen considered the soft going a factor in Electrocutionist's defeat.

Electrocutionist , who will be heading home to Italy, is a candidate for the Japan Cup, a $4.5 million race in Tokyo on Nov. 27. While that race remains one option, it would have had more allure had Electrocutionist won here and been eligible for the $1 million bonus for a Canadian International-Japan Cup double.

Cohen said Electrocutionist instead could go to Dubai for the winter or be put away with an eye toward an early start next year.

Simonas finished fifth in the Canadian International and his assistant trainer, Christa Germann, lodged a claim of foul against Grey Swallow, alleging interference in early stretch. That claim was disallowed.

"He was a little bit unlucky," said Germann. "But he was only beaten two lengths for second place. That was the best form of the year for this horse."

Simonas, a 6-year-old gelding, had finished second in the Canadian International last year and then was invited to the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase. His connections are hoping to make that trip again this year, with the Hong Kong international races going on Dec. 11.

Yeats, the fourth European invader in the Canadian International lineup, finished sixth after breaking a step slowly and then rushing up to dispute the pace with King's Drama, who faltered to eighth.

Jambalaya emerged the best of the three local hopefuls, ending 12 lengths behind the winner as the only 3-year-old in the Canadian International lineup.

"I think he really held his own in a very difficult assignment," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips. "Next year, hopefully, he will be a bigger, stronger horse."