Tonalist shocked the world on Saturday with an upset of California Chrome at the 2014 Belmont Stakes, preventing the favorite from bringing home the first Triple Crown since 1978.
California Chrome struggled to get into position heading around the final turn and was forced to use a lot of energy to go wide. Jockey Victor Espinosa then could not get his horse to make a strong enough push toward the finish line in Elmont, New York.
This left the door open for Commissioner and Tonalist to battle down the stretch, but it was Joel Rosario on Tonalist who made the push late to win by a head.
Here is a complete look at the 1 1/2-mile race:
After Tonalist and Commissioner was Medal Count, who also was able to edge the favorite at the end. California Chrome ended up tying for fourth place in a dead heat with Wicked Strong. Here is a complete look at the results from the 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 Jerkins||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
Tonalist had an impressive effort throughout the race to come through with a narrow victory, as shown by Bleacher Report:
No Triple Crown here! Tonalist wins the 2014 Belmont Stakes. California Chrome finished fifth. pic.twitter.com/fknTYi59JC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 7, 2014
Both he and Commissioner were making their Triple Crown debuts after missing both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. This allowed each of them to come in fresher compared to those who competed in all three major events, including California Chrome.
The favorite's owner was certainly not happy with the situation, via Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv:
Cali Chrome owner Steve Coburn saying its not fair that some horses sat out the Preakness. 'Its all or nothing b/c this is not fair.'— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) June 7, 2014
Of course, Tonalist's trainer, Christophe Clement, simply believes this created a bigger challenge, which is good for the sport:
California Chrome obviously has the talent to win many more events in his career, but the now-famous horse has a number of other opportunities ahead of him. Darren Rovell of ESPN provides one possible option:
Can’t imagine California Chrome will run next year. Worth too much. Odds are he goes to breed in Japan, where famous horses get premiums.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) June 7, 2014
Still, there is no denying the overall disappointment from the result of the race. Fans thought they were going to see the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years, but it seems the difficult schedule and the longer track remains something that is too tough to overcome.
The good news is that this feat remains a lofty goal for all thoroughbreds, as well as trainers, jockeys and owners. It is certainly a possible achievement, but this extended drought shows how difficult it truly is to attain.
As long as there are talented horses like Tonalist saving themselves for the longer race, the Triple Crown will continue to be an extremely difficult accomplishment.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.