The 2014 Belmont Stakes didn't conclude with the Triple Crown storybook ending many of us had hoped for, as an exhausted California Chrome faltered down the final stretch to finish tied for fourth place.
It was the surging Tonalist providing the bittersweet ending to this year's prestigious race at Belmont Park.
No stranger to the track, Tonalist emerged victorious in Elmont, New York, earlier this year when he dominated the field at the Peter Pan Stakes.
Here's a look at the final results from the 2014 Belmont Stakes:
|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|
He may not have won in decisive fashion on Saturday, but his performance was just as remarkable.
Starting far outside in the No. 11 gate, jockey Joel Rosario steered his colt inside, settling just behind the leaders after getting a clean break out of the gate.
Rosario remained patient, holding Tonalist in fourth place heading into the backstretch. This was a great position for him, considering his high level of endurance and impressive closing speed.
Moving to the outside around the far turn, Rosario continued to put Tonalist into a great position to succeed down the final stretch.
Tonalist was three wide heading into the final stretch—that's when Rosario asked him to run.
Picking up his pace with 300 yards left in the race, Tonalist quickly moved to second place but was still a length behind leader Commissioner. That wouldn't last long, as Tonalist looked to be shot out of a cannon over the final 100 yards, blazing to the finish line to earn the victory by a head.
Here's a look at his sparkling performance on Saturday:
Despite winning by a small margin, Tonalist's performance was simply astounding given the sheer strength of the field.
Although, not everyone was happy.
Tonalist was a newcomer to this year's Triple Crown races, having missed the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Well, Steve Coburn, co-owner of the fatigued California Chrome, sure had something to say about it after the race.
Here's a look at his comments:
Whether you agree with Coburn's comments or not, the outcome for this year had already been decided.
After the race, Tonalist's owner, Robert Evans, was asked about Coburn's comments by Bob Costas. The New York Daily News tweeted his blunt response:
"I don't think I have a comment on that." -Tonalist owner Robert Evans to Bob Costas on Steve Coburn's "coward's way out" quotation.— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 7, 2014
A comment wasn't necessary. Tonalist ran a great race—the win was well-deserved.
We all expected a high amount of intensity and a drama-filled conclusion in the third jewel of the Triple Crown. We got exactly that.
While some are upset we have yet to see a Triple Crown winner in over 36 years, others believe Tonalist's victory was good for the sport. Peter Burns of The Denver Post was one such person:
California Chrome doesn’t win. Best thing to happen for the sport of horse racing. Triple Crown continues to be almost impossible feat.— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsRadio) June 7, 2014
That remains up for debate; however, we are left with one certainty: The three races comprising the Triple Crown remain one of the most exciting, adrenaline-filled spectacles in all of sports.
The 2014 Belmont Stakes reaffirmed that on Saturday.