Maharajah, considered one of the greats of his generation in Europe but a horse who has struggled with injuries, won the 1 million euro Prix d'Amerique in his fourth try on Sunday afternoon in Paris. The 9-year-old stallion is a product of American blood as he is a son of Viking Kronos (American Winner-Conch) and the Giant Chill mare Chili Khan. Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg's Menhammar Stud bred and still shares ownership of the horse, and Ms. Kleberg ,who is a member of the board of The Hambletonian Society, was in the winner's circle to accept the Prix d'Amerique trophy.
The conditions at the Vincennes track were far from perfect this year as intermittent rain turned the black cinder track sloppy. The less than favorable weather did not stop the fans from filling the apron at the Vincennes racetrack.
To see the video of the race, click here.
Swedish ace Orjan Kihlstrom was able to give Maharajah a perfect drive after starting from post 17 in the unique start, where the horses gather in groups inside the main oval and then turn at the same time and take their best shot. Outside horses generally have the clearest path to the frontof the field and Kihlstrom took advantage of his position, sending Maharajah forward quickly. Yarrah Boko, who started from post 8, took the lead as the field passed the grandstand, but then his driver, Pierre Vercruysse, yielded as Up And Quick (Jean-Michel Bazire) and Maharajah swept up on the outside with about 1,900 meters remaining.
The leader was not pressured until the field neared thehomestretch, and while Kihlstrom was waiting to make his move, Ready Cash, known for his speed, began advancing on the outside and had a shot at least keeping Maharajah pinned inside, but he broke stride.
Ready Cash's break gave Maharajah his chance and Kihlstrom went to work. They sailed past Up And Quick and then, as Maharajah trotted through the wire, Kihlstrom pumped his arm in celebration.
The mile rate time for the 2,700 meter race was 1:58 flat. Up And Quick and Bazire, who drove Moni Maker to victory in the Prix d'Amerique, finished second while Yarrah Boko was third and Roxane Griff took fourth. Ready Cash was disqualified for his break in stride.
Stefan Hultman trains Maharajah.--harnessracing.com