Although California Chrome appeared set to break the drought and finally win a Triple Crown, Tonalist played the role of spoiler and crossed the finish line first at the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
California Chrome struggled to get into position on the final turns and could only manage to finish in fourth place.
Instead, it was Tonalist who closed strong at the end to narrowly edge Commissioner, who finished in second place. Medal Count also had an impressive race to end up in the money in third place.
Here is a look at the full results from the dramatic race:
|2014 Belmont Stakes Results|
|1||11||Tonalist||Joel Rosario||Christophe Clement||-|
|2||8||Commissioner||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||Head|
|3||1||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||1|
|4||2||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||1 3/4|
|4||9||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkins||1 3/4|
|6||7||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette||4|
|7||10||General a Rod||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||5 1/4|
|8||3||Matterhorn||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||10|
|9||4||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||12 3/4|
|10||6||Matuszak||Mike Smith||Bill Mott||55|
|11||5||Ride On Curlin||John Velazquez||Billy Gowan||87|
|via NBC Broadcast|
While this was an interesting result for all of the fans and gamblers watching along, it meant a lot more for the people actually involved. The owners, trainers and jockeys in this competition split an incredible purse of $1.5 million, according to Eric Wing of NYRA.com.
Here is a complete breakdown of what each of the top horses earned for their teams on Saturday:
|2014 Belmont Stakes Purse Payout|
|1||11||Tonalist||Joel Rosario||Christophe Clement||$800,000|
|2||8||Commissioner||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||$280,000|
|3||1||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||$150,000|
|4||2||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||$80,000|
|4||9||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkins||$80,000|
|6||7||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette||$45,000|
|7||10||General a Rod||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||$35,000|
|8||3||Matterhorn||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||$30,000|
All eyes were on California Chrome to start the day, as people hoped that they would finally see the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News provides a look at how much action there was on the talented horse:
It seemed like he would be in decent position to make a late charge, but jockey Victor Espinoza was forced to go wide to attempt a pass. In the end, he was unable to challenge the leaders. Espinoza summed it up simply after the race:
Of course, Tonalist deserves a lot of credit for coming through with the win in an incredibly close race with Joel Rosario leading the way, as shown by Bleacher Report:
The horse was relatively fresh compared to the rest of the field after missing both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, last running at the Peter Pan Stakes. ESPN Stats and Information notes that this has become quite common:
Commissioner also impressed down the stretch while Javier Castellano secured the rail. He just came up short from earning the win as Medal Count followed for third place. California Chrome and Wicked Strong ended up tying for fourth in a dead heat.
While Tonalist is the star of the day, the big story remains the disappointment for California Chrome. Although a Triple Crown remains a possibility next year, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to attain.
Hopefully for fans of the sport, the next great horse is right around the corner to finally break a drought that has lasted since 1978.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.