Belmont Stakes 2014 Results: Examining Triple Crown Conclusion

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 9, 2014

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 07:  Tonalist #11 (C), ridden by Joel Rosario, races to the finish line enroute to winning the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014 in Elmont, New York.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A bid for horse racing's Triple Crown was dashed at the Belmont Stakes for the 23rd time in history.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome entered the post as a 3-5 favorite to win at Belmont Park and end a 36-year Triple Crown drought. However, the grueling campaign finally caught up to the decorated colt, who lacked the late burst needed to win at the 1 1/2-mile distance and settled outside the money in fourth. 

Instead, it was the lesser-known Tonalist winning the third jewel, passing Commissioner in a photo finish.

Medal Count placed third ahead of California Chrome, who barely edged Wicked Strong. According to ESPN Stats & Information, California Chrome's fourth-place finish is tied for the fourth-worst among horses attempting the Triple Crown at Belmont Park.

Here's a look at the final race results:

2014 Belmont Stakes Results
111Tonalist (2:28.52)Joel RosarioChristophe Clement-
28CommissionerJavier CastellanoTodd PletcherHead
31Medal CountRobby AlbaradoDale Romans1
42California ChromeVictor EspinozaArt Sherman1 3/4
49Wicked StrongRajiv MaraghJimmy Jerkens1 3/4
67SamraatJose OrtizRick Violette4
710General a RodRosie NapravnikMike Maker5 1/4
83MatterhornJoe BravoTodd Pletcher10
94Commanding CurveShaun BridgmohanDallas Stewart12 3/4
106MatuszakMike SmithBill Mott55
115Ride On CurlinJohn VelazquezBilly Gowan87
Source: NBC

Tonalist would finish the 12 furlongs in a time of two minutes and 28.52 seconds, but the top storyline centered on California Chrome, whose loss took the air out of Belmont Park and led to a post-race rant by owner Steve Coburn.

Coburn was critical of Tonalist and the other horses who hadn't run in the previous two legs of the Triple Crown, claiming that they had an unfair advantage.

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 07:  Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome waves to fans at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014 in Elmont, New York.  California Chrome will be attempting to win the triple crown in the Belmont Stakes.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Coburn described the strategy as the "coward's way out," but apologized for his remarks while appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, per

"I need to apologize to the winners. They run a beautiful race. They deserve that. I didn't mean to take anything away from them...Congratulations, you got a fantastic horse. He deserved to win. He won the race, fair and square."

As Sports Illustrated's Peter King points out, the timing of Coburn's rant discredited his argument:

Debate over the current system is likely to continue in the future. However, it was clear after the final turn that California Chrome lacked the final gear a Triple Crown horse must have. 

While many were critical of California Chrome's jockey, Victor Espinoza for keeping the horse on the outside with traffic in front, Espinoza and California Chrome were right where they wanted to be rounding the final bend. As Espinoza explained after the race, the favorite simply didn't have the extra gear to go to down the stretch, per NBC Sports

"I noticed something, as soon as [California Chrome] come out of the gate. He was empty today...After a half-mile, he was pretty much done. Turning for home I was just waiting to have the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little bit flat down the lane."

With the Triple Crown finishing in disappointing fashion yet again, horse racing fans and casual viewers will continue to wonder if the now 37-year drought will ever be snapped.

After running away from the field at Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course last month, the surging California Chrome, who had won six consecutive races coming into the Belmont Stakes, appeared poised to accomplish the sport's biggest feat. 

The letdown continues. 

Whether it's the system or simply the absence of a true Triple Crown champion, something will have to change in order for a 12th Triple Crown winner to emerge.


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