Favourite Belina Josselyn became the first mare to win trotting’s prestigious Prix d’Amerique in 20 years at Vincennes on Sunday, giving driver Jean-Michel Bazire his fourth win in the race.
Bazire claimed his first Prix d’Amerique win in 1999 by guiding Moni Maker to victory, the last time a mare had triumphed.
The 98th edition of the race, which was preceded by a small ‘yellow vests’ protest, saw 15-8 favourite Belina Josselyn finally emerge victorious at the age of eight after finishing fourth in 2017 and second last year.
Bazire bided his time over the 2,700 metres, sitting in seventh place, before passing 40-1 outsider Looking Superb on the final straight to seize the 405,000 euro ($461,720) first prize as 2018 winner Readly Express took third.
“Belina was perfect, we won! I was very confident,” said the 47-year-old Bazire. “At the start of the straight, she went for the win, it’s great.”
Looking Superb was the surprise package with a shock second-placed finish, as trotting legend Bold Eagle trailed home in sixth place despite starting second-favourite at odds of 2-1.
Bold Eagle, a back-to-back winner in 2016 and 2017, paid for a bad start which left the eight-year-old with too much to do, much to the disappointment of a 40,000-strong crowd.
“The horse ran well, but after the start (the gap) closed and I didn’t have time to pass,” said driver Franck Nivard.