California Chrome's struggles in the 2014 Belmont Stakes may have an explanation. According to Eric Crawford of WDRB in Louisville, the colt kicked himself at the start and may have injured his right front hoof:
California Chrome behind closed doors in his barn. They're looking at his right front hoof, where he apparently kicked himself at the start.— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) June 7, 2014
Assistant trainer Alan Sherman found a cut on the hoof, per Ed Zieralski of U-T San Diego:
In barn, assistant trainer Alan Sherman discovered a cut in California Chrome's front right foot. He likely suffered it out of the gate.— Ed Zieralski (@EdZieralski) June 8, 2014
The three-year-old was hanging with the leaders for most of the race, but on the final turn and down the final stretch, he faded and eventually finished in a dead heat for fourth, per NBC News:
UPDATE: California Chrome finished in dead heat for fourth at Belmont— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 7, 2014
Billy Gowan, who trained Ride On Curlin, praised California Chrome's ability to continue running even after the injury:
Billy Gowan, trainer of Ride On Curlin, "That tells you what kind of heart (California Chrome) has, that he finished fourth after that."— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) June 7, 2014
With his failure in the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome may be done in terms of competitive racing and could be put out to stud. This injury only serves to lessen the chances that he'll be out on the track ever again.
Horse racing fans, meanwhile, will wait with bated breath to see next year's Triple Crown candidate.