The favorite Vaillant Cash, driven by harness racing driver Franck Nivard, was first past the post in the first classic race for the French 3-year-old crop, the Criterium des Jeunes, raced Sunday (Feb. 19) at Vincennes, but he was disqualified and placed last for being rough gaited down the stretch.
Vaillant Cash, who is sired by the two-time winner of the Prix d'Amerique,, took an early lead in the 1-11/16th mile event. He was very head strong and was timed at the mile in 1:55.4 -- and still had 11/16th of a mile to go.
Vaillant Cash was followed by the filly Vanika du Ruel, driven by Franck Anne, and going into the stretch Franck Anne made his move.
Vaillant Cash fought back, but became rough gaited and just after the finish the inquiry sign was posted. In France that means that the judges wanted to have a closer look at the videotape of the final stages in the race. And not surprisingly, as it was obvious that Vaillant Cash was rough gaited, he was disqualified and placed last.
Vanika du Ruel was named the winner of this prestigious race, where the winner's share of the purse was $130,000. The filly was timed in 1:58.2 (mile rate), which was a new race record.
This was the second time in a fortnight that a winner in a group race at Vincennes was disqualified and placed last.
Last time Franck Leblanc, the trainer of Vaillant Cash, benefitted from the disqualification as he was the trainer of Tango Quick, who was handed the victory in the Prix de I'Ile de France after the disqualification of Opale du Gaultier, who was first past the post.
by Karsten Bonsdorf, USTA web newsroom correspondent