With a stunning seven-wide move in early stretch, longshot Relaxed Gesture mowed down the field in Sunday's $2 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-I) on his way to a 4 1/2-length victory at Woodbine.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Relaxed Gesture defeated another outsider, Meteor Storm, in Canada's richest horse race, contested at 1 1/2 miles on a turf course that was yielding. The final time was 2:23 3/5.
It capped a productive day for winning trainer Christophe Clement and Nakatani, who earlier teamed to win the $500,000 Nearctic (Can-II) with Steel Light.
Ninth throughout most of the 1 1/2-mile turf classic, Relaxed Gesture kicked into gear going around the far turn as pacesetters King's Drama and Yeats began to falter after a mile. Suddenly, it was Meteor Storm and jockey Javier Castellano who took over and opened 2 1/2 lengths on the field with just a quarter-mile to go down the long E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.
Nakatani had Relaxed Gesture rolling and almost effortlessly, the 11-1 shot seized the front in mid-stretch.
Favored Electrocutionist was positioned in eighth for most of the race, but rallied when brought out for the stretch drive by jockey Mick Kinane, battling alongside Grey Swallow and rider Pat Smullen.
Grey Swallow wound up third, just a neck behind Meteor Storm, and one and one-quarter lengths in front of Electrocutionist. However, there was an inquiry after the race involving the third and fourth place finishers. Eventually, the stewards ruled that Smullen's whip had inadvertently struck Electrocutionist during the stretch run and thus reversed the order, placing Electrocutionist third, Grey Swallow fourth.
Relaxed Gesture, a 4-year-old Irish-bred son of Indian Ridge, picked a perfect time to win his first grade I event. He was second three times and third once in his last four outings in New York, three of them grade I contests.
The chestnut came into the Pattison off a third-place finish, three-quarters of a length behind Better Talk Now and Pattison rival King's Drama in the Sept. 10 Man O' War (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
Sunday's result was the third-largest winning margin in the race's history (since 1958, when the International became a turf race), behind only Secretariat's 6 1/2-length tally in 1973 and Husband's five length romp in 1993.
"He handled it (the turf course) very well," said Nakatani. "Last time at Belmont (the Man O'War), we tried a little different strategy (up on the pace). My main concern today was just to get him to relax and make sure he had a big kick. And he did. He was much the best today."
Bred and owned by Moyglare Stud, Relaxed Gesture became the fourth consecutive Irish-bred (and ninth overall) to win the International, following on the heels of Sulamani (2004), Phoenix Reach (2003) and Ballingarry (2002).
"I like to be cold and I like to be wet," joked Clement, about his decision to run in the Pattison rather than the upcoming Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont. "We thought we had a better chance to win here."
Relaxed Gesture, who has only finished worse than third once in 12 lifetime outings (in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the dirt in 2003), earned $1.2 million for the biggest victory of his career, pushing his bankroll to $1,591.450.
He paid $24.40, $9.70 and $5.20, combining with Meteor Storm ($11.50, $6.60) for a $231.70 exacta. Electrocutionist, ($2.80 to show) rounded out a trifecta worth $1,263.40.
After Grey Swallow, the official order was Simonas, Yeats, Jambalaya, King's Drama, Strut the Stage and Last Answer.