Thirty-six years and counting.
California Chrome's pursuit of history ended in defeat at the 2014 Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner settled for fifth place on Saturday in Elmont, New York:
The colt was the sentimental favorite, but going in, the odds of him going 3-for-3 were slim. Realistically, he still only had an outside chance, given how many before him have faltered at Belmont Park.
ESPN Stats and Info presented how heavily history was weighing on him:
Although California Chrome looked great at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, Belmont Park is an entirely different beast. It's the longest of the three Triple Crown tracks, and that showed in his performance on Saturday. The three-year-old started out well but faded down the final stretch.
You can see the full results below.
|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 Jerkens||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|
As you could expect with a race of such magnitude, social media was abuzz throughout the Belmont Stakes.
Of course, pursuing the Triple Crown added a ton of pressure for all those involved with California Chrome. However, Dan Wolken of CBSSports.com had no time for those who thought the horse himself would be affected by the grand stage:
Scott Hanson of NFL RedZone joked about the lack of air conditioning after the mishap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Luckily none of the horses cramped up:
Boston Celtics announcer Sean Grande thinks that California Chrome may want to stay away from a television on Monday morning so as to avoid any potential heat from the debaters featured on a certain ESPN program:
Tonalist is the 15th horse to win the Belmont after not appearing in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
That was a major bone of contention for California Chrome owner Steve Coburn. After the race, he criticized the system in place that almost punishes horses attempting to win the Triple Crown. They have to run so many races in such a short amount of time that fatigue becomes a major factor by the time Belmont rolls around.
Others, like Tonalist, can instead put all their focus on winning the Belmont.
Coburn went so far as to call horses who skipped either or both of the first two legs of the famed trifecta "cowards," per Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5 in Washington, D.C.:
Tonalist owner Robert Evans was asked about Coburn's comments but refused to be dragged into a public spat, per the New York Daily News:
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch thought the rant was understandable but came off as unprofessional on the NBC broadcast:
Wolken agrees that the Triple Crown schedule should be less congested but that there shouldn't be any barriers to entry for the later races:
Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan also thought that making the Triple Crown easier to attain would cheapen the accomplishment:
Of course, it's not all bad for California Chrome. ESPN's Darren Rovell thinks the colt will be put out to stud:
California Chrome was a valiant contender to accomplish a feat that has reached near mythical proportions, but horse racing fans will have to wait at least another year to see a Triple Crown winner.
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