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California Chrome Just Misses Triple Crown to Tonalist

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 California Chrome made a valiant run at what would've been the first Triple Crown in 36 years on Saturday, but came up short at the Belmont Stakes after a late charge that ran out of steam — and had his owner pretty steamed himself.

Tonalist — who didn't run the Kentucky Derby or Preakness — was the winner by a nose. But it was California Chrome's run we were watching, and the 4-5 favorite finished a close fourth.


The horse from dusty north-central California and humble heritage would've been the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, and the first California horse in history to win one. He also would've ended the event's longest drought in history, which just got one year longer.

Chrome started clean and glided over to the rail out of the gate, but traffic started to build around his right flank early. Jockey Victor Espinoza stayed in the stirrups for most of the backstretch, saving some of the chestnut-colored three-year-old's blazing speed for the end.

By the time Espinoza released, the three-wide lead horses sealed him off. With the race more than half over, Espinoza was forced to try his horse's waning luck on the outside of the front pack.

California Chrome caught up to the leaders, going four-wide even as he took the long way around the final turn. Looking like he might have a chance, Espinoza got on the whip — but on the final stretch his horse flagged ever so slightly, the compounded wear of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the weeks before.

That wear and tear also had California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn sowing sour grapes. He complained immediately after the race that some of the competing horses, which didn't run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, had been entered just to knock out his underdog bid with the horse from nowhere.

"It's all or nothing," he said to a live television feed. "This is not fair to these horses and to the people that believe in them. This is the coward's way out."

It was a comment directed at Tonalist, whose last start was May 10 at the Belmont track, and hadn't raced before that since March. But that's exactly why the Triple Crown has become one of the rarest and most difficult achievements in sports.
By : Dimofinf
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  • #1
    09-07-2014 10:11 AM Abed :
    Steve Coburn was right. He may have sounded like a poor loser to some but he makes perfect sense. If their horses do not run in the other two races, then they should not be able to run at Belmont. It's not fair to put a bunch of fresh horses who have been resting for weeks up against one that has been working his tail off. This is why we don't see Triple Crown winners for 36 years.
  • #2
    09-07-2014 10:13 AM Matt :
    Chrome, a very nice horse, was never close in this race, at least not after the first turn when he relinquished the lead out of the gate. While he did have to go wide on the turn to get out of traffic, even had he stayed in place and tried to work his way be through the inside, he was out of gas before they hit the turn. Tonalist also went wide in the stretch run and fought a battle to catch Commissioner at the wire.
  • #3
    09-07-2014 10:13 AM Abed :
    That's what makes the Triple Crown the Triple Crown. Only exceptional horses should have such an honor, and that includes being able to win the toughest race of them all against horses that don't even try or have a shot at the Triple Crown. A tired, worn out, even injured Michael Jordan will still come through in game 7.