On Saturday, California Chrome became the 13th horse to have a Triple Crown bid derailed in the Belmont Stakes since Affirmed last accomplished the feat in 1978. A dozen have come up short on the track while I’ll Have Another was scratched on the eve of the race in 2012 with a tendon injury.
With the rigors of racing three times in five weeks over, California Chrome flew back to his home base at Los Alamitos in California and will get a well-deserved rest.
“He’s good, other than having a good chunk of his quarter cut,” trainer Art Sherman told Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form. “We’ll get that healed up at the barn for two to three weeks, then stop on him for six or seven weeks, give him some pasture time. He needs a rest.”
Coming out of the gate, California Chrome appeared to get stepped on by Matterhorn, causing a cut on his right front foot, which may have played a part in the colt’s disappointing finish.
"Bottom line is California Chrome may have run 1½ miles on three good feet and we’ll never know how he might have run if he had the use of all four," Ed Zieralski of the U-T San Diego wrote.
There will always be questions of what could have been, but the thoroughbred's team is looking to what's next.
“We’ll keep him in California, get him ready for the Breeders’ Cup,” Sherman told Privman. “It’s where he runs his best races. It’s home for us.”
That means California Chrome likely will not participate in several of the top stakes races for three-year-olds coming up this summer, namely the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 27 and the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 23.
With the $5 million Breeders’ Classic at Santa Anita again this year, it seems likely the colt will prep for that race in Southern California.
Co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin intend on racing the colt as a four-year-old, and his planned rest was determined even before his Belmont Stakes fourth-place finish.
“I’d like to run him in his four-year-old campaign," Coburn told Zieralski several days before the third jewel of the Triple Crown. “We’re going to give him some time off. We’re going to hide him. We actually have a place where he will go where there’s a nice pasture for him to run in and just be a horse.”
Perhaps Coburn may want to hide as well. After his much-publicized post-race rant on NBC, there were no apologies on Sunday morning in interviews he did on ESPN and Good Morning America.
These people nominate their horses for the Triple Crown and then they hold out two [races] and then come back and run one. That would be like me at 6-2 playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair. They haven't done anything with their horses in the Triple Crown. There were three horses in this race that ran in the first two -- California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and General A Rod -- none of the other horses did. You figure out. You ask yourself, 'Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheel chair?'
Tonalist became the 15th Belmont Stakes winner since 1978 who did not participate in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. The colt likely will point toward the Travers Stakes later this summer at Saratoga.
Follow Michael Dempsey on Twitter @turfnsport