California Chrome Fails In Triple Crown Bid At 146th Belmont Stakes
The longest-ever Triple Crown drought in American horse racing history will continue as 4/5 betting favorite California Chrome couldn't follow his Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories at the 146th Belmont Stakes. He finished in a dead-heat for fourth in front of 102,199 fans – the third-largest crowd ever at Belmont Park.
The winner by a head was Tonalist, while Commissioner finished second and Medal Count third. What did these three horses have in common? None raced the first two legs of the Triple Crown and therefore may have been fresher than California Chrome. Affirmed remains the last Triple Crown winner.
Tonalist ran the mile and a half in 2:28.52 and returned $20.40 to win. The colt was originally pointed toward running the Kentucky Derby but didn't qualify on points because of a brief illness that forced him out of April's Wood Memorial – a major Derby prep race. Tonalist last raced on May 10, also at Belmont Park, winning the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes. He is the 15th horse to win the Belmont Stakes without running in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes, since Affirmed's Triple Crown win in 1978. It was the second career win in a Triple Crown race for jockey Joel Rosario, who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby aboard Orb.
California Chrome’s jockey Victor Espinoza said he thought his horse was tired and it certainly appeared to be the case. Chrome was caught in traffic at the start of the race, breaking from Post 2, and finally made a move to the outside in the upper stretch. Unfortunately, he didn't have the finishing kick he displayed at Churchill Downs and Pimlico. California Chrome did have a bloody gash on his right front foot, which is thought to have been caused by Matterhorn earlier on in the race and could have played a role in his performance. He is the 13th horse since Affirmed to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown and then come up short at the Belmont.