King's Drama gave embattled owner Gary Tanaka some good news when his Irish-bred gelding outran Relaxed Gesture by three-quarters of a length in Saturday's $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap (gr. IT), Saratoga's premier turf race.Tanaka, under home confinement at his son's residence in Manhattan while facing a multi-count federal fraud indictment, enjoyed his biggest victory in quite a while.King's Drama and Relaxed Gesture, two Irish-bred horses with controlling speed, fought each other for control before King's Drama prevailed under jockey Jorge Chavez. The majority of 28,596 fans figured King's Drama would use his speed to control the race, and they made him their 2-1 favorite. But things didn't go quite as planned.Winning trainer Bobby Frankel, who predicted a front-running victory, was watching the race from Arlington Park on Saturday when he got a bit of a surprise. A tugging Relaxed Gesture set the opening fractions of :24 and :48 3/5 over "good" going before King's Drama, a 5-year-old King's Theatre gelding, claimed the lead after a mile went in 1:38. Then the race was on. "I think (Tanaka) was more concerned than I was going a mile and a half because of his race in Canada," Frankel said of King's Drama's fifth-place finish at Woodbine in last fall's Canadian International (Can-I). "I was confident that he could go that far because he had been training well into the race, and it showed here. "I was surprised when I saw that King's Drama didn't get the lead immediately. I was wondering when Jorge (Chavez) was going to take the lead, but obviously he knew what he was doing because he won the race."Chavez, who has fallen on hard times after long being one of New York's top jockeys, recorded his second victory of the meet. King's Drama hit the wire in 2:27 1/5. "I've been working hard on every horse I've ridden, but sometimes, your luck is not there," Chavez said. "Today, I won the big race. I'm very happy. My horse was kind of going with that other horse (Relaxed Gesture). I thought I would be by myself. I really wanted to wait until the last 100 yards, and that's what I did. I knew someone was coming. Thank God, he was ready."The day, for Frankel, also included a third-place finish from Vangelis in the Sword Dancer.
King's Drama improved his record to seven wins from 22 lifetime starts and has now won both of his starts on Saratoga's turf. He paid $6.70, $3.90, and $3.50 to win while increasing his bankroll to $679,579 with his first grade I win.Relaxed Gesture, the second choice in the betting, has now recorded three close consecutive second-place finishes. He was previously beaten by a half-length in Belmont Park's Manhattan (gr. IT) and by a head in Belmont's Bowling Green (gr. IIT). "We were second best again," said trainer Christophe Clement. "Jose (Santos) and the horse gave it their best. It happens, although it would be nice to win one of these races because he runs so well. Still, the winner was very much the best and Bobby (Frankel) did a tremendous job with him."Relaxed Gesture returned $3.70 and $3.20. Vangelis was $5.60 to show.This is the first Sword Dancer victory for both Frankel and Chavez. Meteor Storm, Rochester, Dreadnaught, Silverfoot, and Request for Parole were the trailers. (Chart, Equibase)