Tonalist galloped to victory and into a lucrative payday at the 2014 Belmont Stakes, one of horse racing's crown-jewel events.
Millions tuned in to see if California Chrome would make history by becoming the first horse in 36 years to win the Triple Crown but instead saw him finish in a dead heat for fourth place. Tonalist stayed near the front of the pack throughout the 1 1/2 miles, nosing out Commissioner to win.
Take a look at the complete results from the race:
|2014 Belmont Stakes Order of Finish|
|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|
There was plenty to race for in terms of prize money—not to mention the sheer fame and history-making that comes from winning the Belmont Stakes. The purse was raised to $1.5 million for the 2014 edition, according to Eric Wing of NYRA.com.
Here's how that hefty sum of cash was distributed:
|2014 Belmont Stakes Payouts|
|7||General a Rod||$35,000|
The 2014 Belmont Stakes garnered as much anticipation as any horse race in recent memory during the weeks heading into Saturday, and California Chrome was front and center.
With a win on Saturday, he could become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The storyline transcended racing and spellbound a sports world looking on in anticipation of seeing something that hasn't happened this generation.
Soon after the horses left the starting gates, it became apparent that 2014 wouldn't be the year of the Triple Crown.
California Chrome quickly lost his spot on the rail, and when jockey Victor Espinoza navigated him to a position where he could threaten down the stretch, California Chrome just didn't have the legs to come through.
Instead, it was Tonalist, Commissioner and Medal Count—in that order—holding off the heavy favorite as Tonalist grabbed the victory.
Bleacher Report captured the final frame:
In clinching the win, Tonalist grabbed an $800,000 payday and also paid out quite well for those brave enough to bet on him:
|2014 Belmont Stakes Payouts|
|Source: NBC Broadcast|
The number and amount of bets placed Saturday at Belmont were sure to be huge whether on Tonalist, favorite California Chrome or another contender, and that proved to be true.
Per ESPN's Darren Rovell, the ridiculous amount of money thrown around Saturday was a track record:
History will have to wait another year, and given how good California Chrome proved to be throughout the last six weeks, there's no telling how long it will be before another contends for the Triple Crown as seriously as the Art Sherman-trained horse did in 2014.
That's only more of a reason to appreciate the feat.
California Chrome may have been the 13th horse to win both the Derby and Preakness since 1978, but he did it in such a convincing fashion that he was all but expected to do the impossible Saturday.
In the end, the dream didn't come true for California Chrome or the sport of horse racing. That's no reason to not enjoy the ride.