Face Time Bourbon has scratched and retired, making the Prix d’Amérique wide open

Handicapping the 18-horse field for one of the world’s biggest trotting races.

by Thomas Hedlund

Face Time Bourbon (Ready Cash) was the heavy favorite to win Sunday’s (Jan. 30) Prix d’Amérique. It looked like the 7-year-old Ready Cash son had a strong chance to defend his title again and win one of the biggest races in the world a third straight time.

But on Tuesday (Jan. 25), Face Time Bourbon’s connections announced the title defender will miss the race this year due to a low leg injury.

What’s worse is the racing career is likely over for the best trotter in Europe the past few years.

“It’s a 90 per cent possibility for that,” his trainer Sébastien Guarato told French media Tuesday.

Guarato confirmed on Thursday (Jan. 27) afternoon that Face Time Bourbon’s career definitely is over.

Sad. The sport needs the superstars and Face Time Bourbon has, without a doubt, been the brightest star on the European harness racing sky for the past two or three years.

His absence means the Prix d’Amérique field, which was set on Thursday (Jan. 27) noon, stands without any huge favorite.

Face Time Bourbon career summary

(7, Ready Cash—Vita Bourbon)

Starts: 43

Wins: 35

Earnings: $3,828,415

Trainer: Sébastien Guarato

Big wins:

2018: Criterium des 3 ans, European Championship for 3-year-olds

2019: Criterium Continental, Grand Prix de l’U.E.T., Prix de Selection

2020: Prix d’Amérique, Criterium des 5 ans, Grand Prix de Wallonie, Prix de l’Etoile, Prix de Selection, Prix Rene Balliere, Prix du Bourbonnais, Prix Marcel Laurent

2021: Prix d’Amérique, Gran Premio della Lotteria, Grand Prix de Wallonie, Prix de Selection, Prix Rene Balliere, S:t Michel-ajo, Prix de Bourgogne, Prix de Bretagne

Handicapping the 2022 Prix d’Amérique field

Horse – Age – Sire – Driver – Trainer

  1. Galius – 6 – Love You – Yoann Lebourgeois – Séverine Raimond

A true outsider in this year’s Prix d’Amérique. Won Prix Tenor de Baune on Dec. 26 and earned his spot in this race with that victory. Trained by Séverine Raimond, the first French female trainer with a participant in Prix d’Amérique”

  1. Feydeau Seven – 7 – Rodeo Josselyn – Jean-Michel Bazire – Jean-Michel Bazire

Won the Prix de Belgique impressively and will be a serious factor in the race. Bazire knows how to win races of this stature. One of the probable favorites.

  1. Rebella Matters – 7 – Explosive Matters – Christophe Martens – Jean-Michel Bazire

Norwegian-bred mare who has races surprisingly well in the B-races, where she finished third in two of them. Can make money with the right trip.

  1. Hohneck – 5- Royal Dream – Francois Lagadeuc – Philippe Allaire

The youngster in the race. Won the Criterium Continental on Dec. 26 and established his position in the top among French-bred ”H-horses”. Possesses capacity enough for a great check here.

  1. Diable de Vauvert – 9 – Prince d’Espace – Tony Le Beller – Bertrand Le Beller

Showed great condition as runner up in Prix de Belgique. Seems like he has peaked his shape for Prix d’Amérique this year.

  1. Gu d’Heripre – 6 – Coktail Jet – Franck Nivard – Fabrice Souloy

Third in Prix d’Amerique last year, as a 5-year-old, but hasn’t really taken the next important step towards the top. Needs improvement on his two prior performances.

  1. Chica de Joudes – 10 – Jag de Bellouet – Alain Laurent – Alain Laurent

Strong mare who likes longer distances. Will face a tough assignment to grab money in this race.

  1. Power – 6 – Googoo Gaagaa – Robert Bergh – Robert Bergh

Power has claimed big titles on this track before, but must show improvement since finishing 7th in Prix de Belgique. Big long shot.

  1. Etonnant – 8 – Timoko – Anthony Barrier – Richard Westerink

Won the Prix du Bourbonnais in December, beat Face Time Bourbon that day and has both strength and speed that is required for a top performance in Prix d’Amérique. Will probably not be the favorite, but Etonnant is the horse I believe can win.

  1. Flamme du Goutier – 7 – Ready Cash – Théo Duvaldestin – Thierry Duvaldestin

Won the Prix de Cornulier last Sunday and tries again, this time in the sulky. Good enough to upset if she gets her trip.

  1. Cokstile – 9 – Quite Easy – Gabriele Gelormini – Erik Bondo

Won the Prix de Bourgogne on Jan. 2 and tried the Prix de Belgique two weeks later. Raced with shoes that time and seemed totally out of power. No shoes on Sunday and we’ll see the old Cokstile again.

  1. Zacon Gio – 7 – Ruty Grif – Björn Goop – Jean-Michel Bazire

Interesting Italian bred horse that has beaten Face Time Bourbon in Italy. Disappointing at Vincennes so far and he chases a smaller check.

  1. Vitruvio – 8 – Adrian Chip – Alessandro Gocciadoro – Alessandro Gocciadoro

Impressed a lot in Europe as a 5-year-old, but has had difficulties to find the perfect shape and condition in France. If he races at his best level, he could upset

  1. Delia du Pommereux – 9 – Niky – David Thomain – Sylvain Roger

Iron Lady that is hard to count on in this year’s Prix d’Amérique. Beat Face Time Bourbon in last year’s Prix de France but hasn’t showed the right condition lately.

  1. Vivid Wise As – 8 – Yankee Glide – Matthieu Abrivard – Alessandro Gocciadoro

Super speedy trotter that most likely wants shorter distances to perform at his best level. Second to Cokstile (from the lead) in Prix de Bourgogne

  1. Bahia Quesnot – 11 – Scipion du Goutier – Junior Guelpa – Junior Guelpa

Another tough mare that can look back at an extraordinary career. Fourth in the monté race Prix de Cornulier one week ago. Not on fire in this race.

  1. Davidson du Pont – 9 – Pacha du Pont – Nicolas Bazire – Nicolas Bazire

Went off stride at mid-stretch in the Prix de Belgique and would probably have won the race without that mishap. Merited trotter that possesses everything that’s needed to win, as long as he is sound and fresh.

  1. Billie de Montfort – 11 – Jasmin de Flore – Pierre-Yves Verva – Sébastien Guarato

Old lady with a lifetime earnings of $2,898,030. No luck in earlier attempts in the Prix d’Amérique and a check can be reached with a perfect trip.

Flamme du Goutier wins Prix de Cornulier

Last Sunday (Jan. 23), the $793,500 Prix de Cornulier for trotters racing under saddle was held at Vincennes and winner Flamme du Goutier (Ready Cash) finished with power without having to empty herself in the finish.

The victory in Prix de Cornulier was logical. Flamme du Goutier had raced very well in the prior races and she was first choice in the big monté race on Sunday afternoon. Trainer Thierry Duvaldestin declared soon after the race that he might consider racing his mare even in Sunday’s Prix d’Amérique, if everything seemed to be okay with the horse and that’s where we are today. Flamme du Goutier is one of the 18 contesters that will try to claim the prestigious trophy at Vincennes.

Beside the Prix de Cornulier winner, Jean-Michel Bazire is on fire ahead of the big race on Sunday. France’s leading name in the sport has three chances to win and Bazire himself has opted to drive Prix de Belgique winner Feydeau Seven. Rebella Matters earned her spot in the race after two third places in the B-races and Zacon Gio has earned enough money to be one of the participants in this year’s Prix d’Amérique. However one of the Bazire-horses that qualified for Prix d’Amérique is missing on Sunday. Ganay de Banville, who finished third in the first B-race in November, is out of the Prix d’Amérique 2022.

Other stakes on tap at Vincennes

Vincennes is what harness racing fans are focusing on this weekend and the big show starts on Saturday (Jan. 29) when the $135,000 Prix Paul Viel for 3-year-old colts and the $135,000 Prix Roquepine for 3-year-old fillies are the highest-staked races on the card. The most interesting race is usually the $115,000 Prix du Luxembourg for the older elite. It is contested over 2,100 meters and features a mobile starting gate.

There are some really great names in the race this year. Gareth Boko, Feliciano and Elie de Beaufour will all start from behind the gate and the probable winner is gelding Elie de Beaufour, trained and driven by Bazire.

Besides the Prix d’Amérique, Sunday’s race card features a number of big stakes, including: the $335,000 Sulky World Cup 4 ans for 4-year-olds which has attracted 15 of the best in the European crop born 2018. The 5-year-olds will battle in $335,000 Sulky World Cup 5 ans.