Soaring superstar: Bold Eagle wins the French Triple Crown

The French star won the gruelling 2.5 mile Grand Prix de Paris on Sunday at Vincennes to claim a €300,000 bonus and become just the fourth horse to win the country’s Triple Crown.

by Thomas Hedlund

For the first time in 41 years — and just the fourth time in history — France is celebrating a Triple Crown winner.

On Sunday (Feb. 26) at Vincennes Racetrack in Paris, six-year-old French champion Bold Eagle won the third — and toughest — leg of the Crown, taking the 4,150-metre (2.5 mile) €400,000 Grand Prix de Paris by a length to earn a €300,000 bonus. The approximate mile time was 1:59.

Bold Eagle and 37-year-old driver Franck Nivard sat near the back of the 13-horse field for most of the trip, but finished strongly to defeat Briac Dark and Bird Parker. The first five finishers were from the 2011 French crop.

Combining the winner’s share of €180,000 with the bonus, Bold Eagle now sports earnings of €3,403,300 (about $3.6 million U.S.) and his record is now 33 wins in 38 career starts. He has 12 Group I victories. Bold Eagle is trained by Sébastien Guarato, owned by Pierre Pilarski and bred by Jean-Étienne Dubois.

“It’s so nice right now. I wanted to see the horse (behind) Briac Dark and on speed he’s incredible,” said Guarato.

“This is just an incredible horse, a superstar,” said Nivard, the leading driver in France.

A year ago, the son of Ready Cash out of the Love You mare Reethi Rah Jet, won the first two legs of the French Triple Crown, but failed to win the gruelling Prix de Paris.

The last French Triple Crown winner before Bold Eagle was 41 years ago when Bellino II won the Crown in 1976. The other French Triple Crown winners are Gelinotte in 1956 and 1957 and Jamin in 1959.

The third leg in the French Triple Crown is in many ways the toughest, especially when one considers that most of the participants first have two hard races in the Prix d’Amérique and Prix de France. Racing observers said Bold Eagle came into the 2017 Triple Crown attempt in better shape and was more hardened. In addition, Bold Eagle did not need to totally empty himself to win the first two legs.

After the Prix de Paris was secured, Bold Eagle’s connections indicated they would next attempt to win Sweden’s famed Elitlopp on May 28 at Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm.

We will see how Guarato’s protégé will perform in heats over the distance of a mile. The Elitlopp will be the first time Bold Eagle will race over that distance and it would be the shortest race he has ever contested, with his previous shortest race a distance of 1-5/16 miles.

Stefan Melander, trainer of Swedish champion Nuncio, had his doubts whether Bold Eagle would contest the Elitlopp, now trotting fans all over the world can look forward to welcome the French star to Solvalla.

In France, Nivard is a star and has won over $2.6 million to date this year with 36 wins in 230 attempts. Outside of France, he has not yet won the biggest races, but Bold Eagle gives him a great chance to win a prestigious race outside his homeland.