INTRODUCTION: Bellino II -- the 10-year-old "iron horse" of European trotting -- won his third straight Prix d'Amerique in Paris on Sunday (30 January).
INTRODUCTION: Bellino II -- the 10-year-old "iron horse" of European trotting -- won his third straight Prix d'Amerique in Paris on Sunday (30 January). A devasting finishing burst put Bellino II a head in front of his co-favourite, Eleazar, at the winning post. Five lengths away in third place was the 100-1 chance France Maria. The three trotters shared the majority of the race's 1,250,000 francs (250,000 dollars) prizemoney.
SYNOPSIS: 18 trotters made up the field for the mile and a half (2,600 metres) classic. Although Bellino II was the class horse of the field, it was thought that old age had finally caught up with him. The 17 hands trotter has a long list of accomplishments -- and 8 million francs in prizemoney to show for them, but his recent form had been mediocre.
The race began with a rolling start and almost immediately Bellino II ran into interference and lost his stride. When his driver Jean-Rene Gougeon -- attempting his fifth d'Amerique win -- balanced him, Bellino II was back in 15th place.
The race progressed and so did Bellino II. As the field moved around the back turn heading towards the final straight, the veteran was in about ninth position.
Bellino's finishing burst was too much for his younger rivals.
His narrow winning margin was greeted by wild scenes of elation among the 50,00 crowd.
The last word on the victory belonged to Bellino's owner Maurice Macheret.
"He is no longer the unbeatable champion he was, but he still hasn't said his last word in the Prix d'Amerique yet," he said.