by Thomas Hedlund
The $68,500 Oslo Grand Prix over 2,100 meters in Oslo, Norway was a spectacular show on Sunday afternoon.
Two trotters —and their drivers — gave it all to entertain the spectators at home watching the race on television, but none of them were winners in the end. Instead, a French trotter, now trained in Norway, stole the show and came home in a stakes record of 1:52.3 over 1.3 miles.
Elian Web left quickly, as usual, from his post 1, but from the outside, Björn Goop got Vitruvio on fire from the start and the Italian-bred seemed to trot out of Goop’s hands. Jorma Kontio had no thoughts of letting Goop get the lead, so the pace the first three quarters of a mile landed on a 1:22.3 mark, with a half-mile remaining in the race.
Vitruvio disarmed leader Elian Web with a lap to go, but was obviously marked by the pace and when strong trotter Ble du Gers (Quinoa du Gers) came up on the outside of new leader Vitruvio in the last turn, the race was over for both of the hard-fighting, front-end horses.
Ble du Gers is known from racing in France, where the distances often are longer than 1.3 miles. Under the guidance of his former trainer Jean-Michel Bazire, the 9-year-old has fought against some of the best known trotters in Europe in previous seasons. The gelding, who is not allowed to race in the biggest races in France, was brave enough to easily pass Vitruvio in the stretch.
Driver Per Oleg Midtfjeld was entrusted behind Frode Hamre’s new barn star. Midtfjeld is a well-merited trainer and driver in Norway. In 2005, he won Elitloppet paired with his Steinlager and the duo had some successful years on the tracks in Europe. Midtfjeld’s star now is Ferrari B.R., who races among top trotters every time he enters a track.
Behind Ble du Gers, Tsunami Diamant finished strongly as the runner up and Vitruvio’s bronze medal deserves the highest grades in bravery.
Prix d’Amérique winner Face Time Bourbon is back
Sébastien Guarato’s Face Time Bourbon (Ready Cash), who won Prix d’Amérique in Paris earlier this year, is ready for a comeback. The 5-year-old champion hasn’t started since Feb. 29, when he won $220,000 Prix de Selection at Vincennes, but on Sunday (June 21), the super talented trotter will face Bold Eagle, among others, in $165,000 Prix Réné Balliere over 1.3 miles in Paris.
Björn Goop will drive Face Time Bourbon and the duo draw post 7 behind the gate.
Prix Réné Balliere 2020
Horse – Driver
Delia du Pommereux – Franck Nivard
Enino du Pommereux – Matthieu Abrivard
Bold Eagle – Eric Raffin
Bahia Quesnot – Junior Guelpa
Feliciano – David Thomain
Valokaja Hindö – Jean-Michel Bazire
Face Time Bourbon – Björn Goop
Eridan – Yoann Lebourgeois
Chica des Joudes – Alain Laurent
Drole de Jet – Pierre Vercruysse
Zefir Gar – Mario Minoploi Jr
Pacer pedigreed trotter aims for big trophies
Four-year-old Don Fanucci Zet (Hard Livin—Kissed By The West by Western Terror) started this season pretty much as an ordinary trotter in low class after a 3-year-old season which ended in four wins in six attempts, in easy races.
Something big has happened with the horse during the winter and clearly Don Fanucci Zet has learned how to move his legs in the right gait lately. The Hard Livin son was runner up behind champion trotter Aetos Kronos in Kungapokalen at Åby racetrack in May and showed by then that he can be a serious threat when the really big races for 4-year-olds are on the schedule later this year.
Trainer Daniel Redén began to get big hopes for his ”pacer” when Don Fanucci Zet made his third lifetime start last season, but even for Redén, the progress of the horse has been extraordinary and on Wednesday night at Solvalla, Don Fanucci Zet claimed the $85,500 Prix Readly Express over 1.3 miles in a mile rate 1:55.3, via a trip in front all the way for driver Örjan Kihlström.
Aetos Kronos was on the outside the whole race and behind him, in second over, Green Manalishi was served a nice trip by Jorma Kontio.
Regarding Green Manalishi, the pace midway through the race was a bit too slow and when he attacked three wide in the last turn, the son of Muscle Hill couldn’t challenge the two front horses in a :27.2 last quarter..
Aetos Kronos held bravely for second place and Don Fanucci Zet claimed his biggest check by winning by two lengths.
Aetos Kronos’ trainer Jerry Riordan announced that the biggest and most obvious objective for his 4-year-old this year is $855,500 Derby in September and it’s no big guess that Daniel Redén has the same target in sight for his Don Fanucci Zet.
Green Manalishi will most certainly be aimed for $213,000 Sprintermästaren over the mile in Halmstad in early July and if someone knows how to win that race among trainers in Europe, it’s Stefan Melander. Rydens Sensation (2000), Scarlet Knight (2002), Nuncio (2015) and Uncle Lasse (2016) are his previous winners in the race.
Back to Don Fanucci Zet. Stallion Hard Livin was brought to Sweden in 2010, after two successful years in Jimmy Takter’s barn, and after a career in Sweden which ended in 2015, Hard Livin has been serving as a low price stud in his new home country. And his results in 2020 are really great. In fact, already in 2019 his 2016-born filly Diana Zet won the $598,000 Oaks for 3-year-old mares and in May this year Diana won the $215,000 Drottningpokalen, the same day that Aetos Kronos beat Don Fanucci Zet in the $215,000 Kungapokalen.
And the mother of Don Fanucci Zet, Kissed By The West (Western Terror—Kissed By A Fool) was a $15,000 purchase by Redén at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale in 2012, at the same event where he bought Monarch Kemp, later named Trixton.
“We really tried to get (Kissed By The West) trotting but it was impossible so we had to try to breed her instead and her first offspring (Kiss Of Judas, by Pastor Stephen) was a hard case. Now, we got Don Fanucci Zet and he is something extra,” said Redén.
More about the evening at Solvalla on Wednesday night: Driver Örjan Kihlström experienced one his best racing nights in his career by winning seven out of 10 races on the card which is quite unusual in European countries.