After three weeks of buildup since the Preakness Stakes, horse racing fans will have to wait at least another year for the Triple Crown to finally happen.
Tonalist, mounted by Joel Rosario, ultimately pulled away from the inside and gutted out the huge win with a finish time of two minutes and 28.52 seconds.
No Triple Crown here! Tonalist wins the 2014 Belmont Stakes. California Chrome finished fifth. pic.twitter.com/fknTYi59JC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 7, 2014
California Chrome put together a valiant effort but came up short of winning the first Triple Crown since Affirmed did so in 1978. Jockey Victor Espinoza, who fell short with War Emblem, shared his thoughts on having a second chance at the Triple Crown, per Michael Martinez, Jaqueline Hurtado and Paul Vercammen of CNN:
I am ready for it this time. I am prepared ... to go and see if I can get it done with California Chrome this time. ... I'm going to do my best, and I'm going to use all my talent and brains for that race, all the 20 years that I've been riding and that I learned.
I like to be a little outside. If the horse has speed in the race, I like to be outside of him because if I'm not outside it complicates the race for me. I have to use my brains a lot, but it's easier for me to be outside.
Espinoza and California Chrome did nearly everything right but weren't able to pull away from the field. Tonalist was the fresher horse but also had to pull ahead of Commissioner to claim the win.
Commissioner and Tonalist were fighting for the lead down the final furlongs, with Tonalist finally overtaking the dark horse. Outside of California Chrome, no horse fell further than Ride On Curlin, who finished 11th after coming in as one of the favorites in the field.
With the Belmont Stakes officially over, here's a look at the results for the huge race.
|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|
via NBC Broadcast
California Chrome's run at history might not have necessarily been a fair one, according to owner Steve Coburn. The upset owner spoke about the field following the loss, per the New York Daily News:
"If you've got a horse, run him in all three...This is the coward's way out." -California Chrome owner Steve Coburn— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 7, 2014
Coburn would go on to say that he believed no horse should be able to enter the final leg of the Triple Crown without racing in the Kentucky Derby. Given the fatigue of California Chrome shown down the stretch, the colt might have ran a closer race if the other horses weren't as fresh.
As for an outsider's perspective, Dan Wolken of USA Today provides his thoughts on another one of the owner's proposals:
The races should be more spaced out, yes. But the idea that a horse should have to run in the Derby and Preakness to be in the Belmont? No.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) June 7, 2014
The field around California Chrome was obviously strong, but Tonalist hadn't raced a single one of the previous Triple Crown events. Does that mean California Chrome would have won trotting out against horses that raced in all three legs?
ESPN Stats & Info provides details on how rare the feat would have been with 11 horses in the field:
No Triple Crown winner has beaten more than seven horses in the Belmont to win the Triple Crown.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2014
Rather than California Chrome becoming one of 12 horses to take the title of a Triple Crown winner, Tonalist now has his first and only win on this stage. As the horse racing world makes way for next year's races, hopes of a Triple Crown will continue, but the rules are unlikely to change.
While Coburn and likely all of the "Chromies" are currently outraged, it will all be forgotten yet again next year. Several more stallions will trot out at Churchill Downs in hopes of ending the now-37-year drought but will have to hope they can run with a fresh one in the final leg.
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