In the sport of horse racing, it doesn't get any bigger than a horse gunning for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
That's exactly what fans were treated to as the 2014 edition of the race unfolded with California Chrome looking to make history.
No Triple Crown here! Tonalist wins the 2014 Belmont Stakes. California Chrome finished fifth. pic.twitter.com/fknTYi59JC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 7, 2014
Unfortunately, fans did not bear witness to history. California Chrome joined the likes of Smarty Jones, Big Brown and I'll Have Another as horses to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before coming up short in the final leg at the Belmont.
Here's a look at the final results of the intense 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|
What turned out to be bitter disappointment for California Chrome and his connections was a major coup for Tonalist and his.
After sitting out the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the colt took advantage of the fatigue in the rest of the field to sprint his way to victory on the 1 1/2-mile track, posting a finish time of two minutes and 28.52 seconds. Here's a look at the full replay from New York:
California Chrome's bid to capture the Triple Crown was obviously the biggest storyline involved, but as always, there were plenty of bettors with a vested interest in the outcome. Here's a look at the payouts that could make some savvy sharps a pretty penny:
*$2 Exacta 11-8 paid $348; $1 Trifecta 11-8-1 paid $3,390.50; $1 Superfecta 11-8-1-2 paid $3,808; $1 Superfecta 11-8-1-9 paid $5,728.50.
Those who were calling for a Tonalist victory prior to post time in New York no doubt looked at his path to the Belmont. As a horse who sat out both of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, he had history on his side, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Tonalist wins Belmont, 15th to win the Belmont without running in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes since last Triple Crown won— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2014
As Mike Rutherford of CardChronicle.com noted before the race started, Tonalist looked the part of Belmont winner. The additional rest that some horses get by skipping races is going to make the Triple Crown a difficult accomplishment:
Tonalist looked as good as a horse can before a race. Not sure this is ever going to happen.— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) June 7, 2014
As for Tonalist, he and his connections should be very pleased with the historic win. While his run ultimately broke up a historic bid, jockey Joel Rosario added another victory from one of the Triple Crown races to his record. Trainer Christophe Clement was pleasantly surprised by the win, telling The Associated Press (via ESPN.com), "We actually thought he finished second, but we got lucky, he won. It was great."
Regardless of the result, it's hard to deny that this event was good for the sport of horse racing. It's disappointing to see a horse come just short of making history, but the race itself still had a little bit of everything.
Featuring a photo finish, a long shot grabbing the victory and a Triple Crown dream deferred, this race had all the intrigue that will no doubt have fans glued to their televisions next summer hoping there's a horse out there that can end what will then be a 37-year drought.