Bjorn Goop is congratulated by trainer Sebastien Guarato after driving Face Time Bourbon to the 100th Grand Prix d'AmeriqueBjorn Goop is congratulated by trainer Sebastien Guarato after driving Face Time Bourbon to the 100th Grand Prix d'Amerique (AFP Photo/THOMAS SAMSON)
Paris (AFP) - Face Time Bourbon won Sunday's centenary edition of the Prix d'Amerique, the harness trotting championship staged at the Vincennes track in Paris, first run in 1920 in tribute to American soldiers who fought in World War I.
With Swede Bjorn Goop driving, the well-fancied five-year-old was a third win in the 900,000 euro ($1 million) race for trainer Sebastien Guarato after Bold Eagle in 2016 and 2017.
Face Time Bourbon held a perfect position on the inside rail making his move over the final 300 metres to surge ahead of favourite Davidson du Pont, trained by Jean-Michel Bazire with Franck Ouvrie steering, and finish a clear winner.
Bazire also trained and drove last year's winner Belina Josselyn into third and said he was proud of his horses anyway.
"We were beaten by the new Bold Eagle," he said in reference to the former two-time winner who came 10th on the day.
"I've no regrets, I'm happy with my ride and happy with my horse. Even if I was favourite, racing isn't always straightforward."
The driver Goop praised Face Time Bourbon's style.
"Face Time Bourbon has an immaculate gait and is so, so fast," said Goop, who also won in 2018 on Ready Express.
"I can only thank the owner and of course the trainer for giving me such a horse to drive," he added.
Winning trainer Guarato said Face Time Bourbon was easy to drive.
"I wasn't sure he would win but he's a phenomenon and is always fast over the final 500 metres," he said.
The 2,700m showpiece is trotting's undisputed world heavyweight championship, drawing an annual crowd of 40,000 with bets of over 40 million euros wagered.
First run 100 years ago at French trotting headquarters Vincennes on the east of Paris, the Prix d'Amerique is harness trotting's equivalent to flat racing's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, staged across the French capital at Longchamp every autumn.
It has been held every year apart from in 1940 and 1941 when it was cancelled during World War II.
Despite its raison d'etre, American trainers account for only three victories in the event's long history.
Walter Dear won in 1934, then Delmonica Hanover ended a four-decade wait for their second in 1974 with Moni Maker in 1999 the last time Vincennes' rafters reverberated to the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner.