by Thomas Hedlund
Sunday’s (Dec. 11) race card at Vincennes in Paris contained the second B-race ahead of 2023 edition of Prix d’Amérique and some well merited trotters were in the field of 16 trotters.
Elitloppet winner Etonnant and European top trotter Vivid Wise As were two of the best horses in the field and even if both of them, basically, are already in the Prix d’Amerique set for the last Sunday in January 2023, they needed to show some kind of condition in the $125,000 Prix du Bourbonnais over 2,850 meters.
Etonnant opened quickly and hit the lead when the field showed up in front of the grandstand for the first time. The pace wasn’t set at an excessively high level throughout the race and many factors pointed towards a pretty safe win for the leading Etonnant, but his power started to lessen at the top of the stretch and instead, Jean-Michel Bazire-trained 5-year-old Hooker Berry (Booster Winner), looked as the strongest horse when the stretch remained. Hooker Berry was served a perfect power saving trip as third on the inside, behind Vivid Wise As and when the latter showed signs of fatigue in the last turn, driver Nicolas Bazire opted to lift out Hooker Berry for an attack towards leader Etonnant.
Hooker Berry sailed away to a safe win in a mile rate of 1:57.1 over 1.7 miles and behind him, Hussard du Landret finished strongly as second. Etonnant held on to third place while Vivid Wise As became very tired and finished far back in the field.
HORSES SET FOR PRIX D’AMÉRIQUE 2023:
(Prix de Bretagne)
Hip Hop Haufor
Ampia Mede Sm
(Prix du Bourbonnais)
Hussard du Landret
TOUGH FIGHT IN PRIX DE L’ETOILE
Just A Gigolo (Boccador de Simm) has proved that he is in the top of the French ”J-crop” (3-year-olds) and Philippe Allaire’s trotter has collected several big trophies during his first two seasons on the track and in Sunday’s (Dec. 11) $210,000 Prix Ready Cash/Prix de l’Etoile for 3-year-olds, Just A Gigolo once again impressed.
Philippe Allaire’s horse has many times solved his races on pure talent, being the horse in the crop that most effectively finds his way towards the wire. In Sunday’s race, he had to pick out another tool from his box.
Franck Nivard sent Just A Gigolo to the lead a half mile into the 2,100 meters long race and the duo seemed unconcerned in front. But when Jack Tonic found room in the last turn after a pocket trip, Just A Gigolo seemed disarmed at the top of the stretch and Franck Nivard had to convince his horse that the race wasn’t over yet. Just A Gigolo showed great morale as he came back on the inside, got advantage of the outside horse and even held on when quick finisher Juliet Papa Bravo attacked far outside on the stretch.
By a nose the win ended in Just A Gigolo’s favor and he won in a mile rate of 1:57.1 over 1.3 miles.
Just A Gigolo has 14 wins in 19 starts so far and his bank account says that $880,000 is his lifetime earnings.
CALGARY GAMES IS BACK
It’s hard to tell how good horse Timo Nurmos’ trained Calgary Games (Readly Express) is. After nine lifetime starts prior to Wednesday’s (Dec. 14) show at Solvalla, the 5-year-old undefeated colt hasn’t battled among the best older trotters in Europe. To be honest, the opponents in Wednesday’s race at Solvalla are not comparable to what kind of horses Calgary Games will have to face when he travels to France and Vincennes in a couple of days, but anyway, the way he moves and the way he looks makes him to be the big favorite to win the 2023 Prix d’Amérique, if he enters the race.
Timo Nurmos’ trotter hit the lead after 500 meters on a snowy track and driver Björn Goop was allowed to lower the pace dramatically during the race’s first mile. But when he asked something more in terms of speed from Calgary Games in the last turn, the duo left the opponents behind with several lengths just in a few steps and Calgary Games cruised to superior win via a 26.3 last quarter.
Ten starts, 10 wins and it looks like Timo Nurmos once again will win the Prix d’Amérique, because there will be no other horses entering Prix d’Amérique looking as good as Calgary Games does right now.
As I said after his qualification race in November, place your bets.
View Calgary Games’ Wednesday start at Solvalla here.