Handicapping today’s Prix d’Amérique

Will it be favorite Face Time Bourbon, Davidson du Pont or someone else winning today at Vincennes?

by Brett Sturman

Today’sPrix d’Amériqueat Vincennes in Paris is one of the few harness races across the world that actually will look different due to it being conducted without spectators. Even on the simulcast feed the difference in atmosphere will be unmistakable, but there will still be a strong worldwide wagering interest in the event as usual. With 18 horses lined up going 2,700 meters, who is most likely to come out on top in the 1,000,000 euro ($1.2 million) event?

Starting with the prohibitive favorite, can Face Time Bourbon repeat his exhilarating win in last year’sPrix d’Amérique? The betting markets at least suggest that he will. Odds on Face Time Bourbon can be found between 4-5 and even money depending on where you look, which seems like a an even shorter price when you consider that he’s starting from the 17-slot from the second tier in an 18-horse field.

Face Time Bourbon’s record is a near model of perfection form 33 lifetime starts, including only two losses in over the last year and a half — and both of those losses were runner-up finishes. One was in Italy in October to Zacon Gio – a horse that crushed here in the U.S. in the 2019 Yonkers International Trot – and the other was toDavidson du Pontfollowing last year’sPrix d’Amérique, who himself happens to be one of the favorites for this year’s edition.

While Face Time Bourbon will warrant his strong favoritism, it’s not without possibility he can beat. The 6-year-old most recently raced on Jan. 3 in aPrix d’Amériquequalifying event. He won, but it was by the narrowest of diminishing margins as two other rivals Vivid Wise As and Delia Du Pommereux were right there as the wire came. In that race, Face Time Bourbon had to go first-over for the second portion of the race when his initial cover Davidson du Pont cleared to that. Face Time Bourbon did eventually wear down that rival, but you could say that Davidson du Pont had an equally difficult trip and he wasn’t that far behind at the end either. Two races back, Face Time Bourbon won more comfortably with an easier trip, but driver BjörnGoop had him under strong urging to keep to task and there were still a couple others moving forward on late.

Goop gave Face Time Bourbon a trip for the ages last year when he waited patiently amidst traffic and found a seam between horses to his inside in the stretch and with this caliber of competition it could very well come down to the trip again. If he can, he’ll join the likes of Varenne, Offshore Dream, Ready Cash and Bold Eagle as horses to win the event back-to-back since the year 2000.

Davidson du Pontlooked like a winner for a moment in this race last year before Face Time Bourbon found his split and came bursting through. He did avenge that defeat though when those two met next out, and he enters this year’sPrix d’Amériquein fine form.

A winner two weeks ago on Jan. 17, he bested a number of formidable rivals that he’ll see again today and did so rather stylishly. He traveled well throughout that day, racing with fourth-over and then third-over cover, eventually moving forward into the lane to surge past Delia Du Pommereux who had the second-over cover.Davidson du Pontcould only manage a fourth-place finish two back when last matched up against Face Time Bourbon, but that was a well-meant effort. Parked for the first part of the race, he cleared to the lead but then was forced to park out Face Time Bourbon and a third horse to his outside. He fought tenaciously while trying to fend off Face Time Bourbon and was only defeated a length or so in the end; seems like he’ll be up to the challenge once again.

All other horses in the race are likely to offer double digit odds and there are some longer-priced horses that a case could be made for. One of those is the son of the American-bred sire Yankee Glide, Vivid Wise As, who figures to be in the area of 20 or 25-1. Two back at Cagnes Sur-Mer he beat the then heavily backed and fellowPrix d’Amériquecompetitor Drole De Jet, and did so comfortably despite being parked first-up almost the entire race. Last out at Vincennes, Vivid Wise As almost got to Face Time Bourbon. He was buried third on the rail into the stretch in that race and was flying once he angled out for clearance. Doesn’t race often but fires when he does; would seems a possibility despite the long odds.

Power and Gu d’Heripre are the lone 5-year-olds in the race, which is noteworthy because whereas in North America most top horses have certainly been retired by then, 5-year-old’s are considered young in this race. Like Vivid Wise As, Power is by a sire familiar to North America racing. By the mercurial Googoo Gaagaa, he was ultra-impressive last out at Vincennes. He was stacked up a fifth-over last into stretch before tipping out widest of everyone to sweep by and hold off a late threat on the inside. Gu d’Heripre did beat Power two back, but Power was the victim of a shuffle when blind-switched and I’d prefer him as the better chance of the “young” ones.

Delia Du Pommereux can currently be found at about 10-1 odds, but I prefer some of the other longer-priced ones to him. He recently finished second toDavidson du Pont, but that was his best finish since December, 2019. Two back, he got the ideal pocket trip in between battling leaders and finished third but was still outkicked by a horse in front of him and one from behind him. Maybe I’m missing something.

Moni Viking is a reach but one that wouldn’t be an impossible surprise. He sprinted late following all sorts of traffic issues three back at odds of 28-1. Last out, he wrested the lead into the stretch but couldn’t sustain against two others; still wasn’t a bad effort. Those two tries are sandwiched by a ninth place try in which he never was involved.

Picks: Davidson du Pont, followed by Face Time Bourbon, Vivid Wise As and Power