Updated on 06/10/2014 9:52AM

California Chrome grabbed quarter during Belmont

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Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome didn't have the smoothest of starts in the Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Victor Espinoza knew early on this wasn’t going to be California Chrome’s day.

Espinoza said that California Chrome didn’t show the same energy early on in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes that he had shown in winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and he trudged home in a dead-heat for fourth with Wicked Strong, two lengths behind Tonalist in the 146th Belmont Stakes.

Espinoza didn’t have a concrete reason why California Chrome was flat on Saturday, but the colt was seen to have blood coming from his right front foot, known as a grabbed quarter, as he walked back through the tunnel after the race. Photographs show that Matterhorn, in the stall next to California Chrome, stepped on California Chrome’s foot coming out of the gate.

“I noticed when I jumped off him he was bleeding a little bit in the right front,” Espinoza said. “Maybe that affected him.”

::2014 BELMONT STAKES: Recap, video, chart, and more

Also, watching the head-on replay, it appeared as though California Chrome bumped a couple of times with Samraat a few strides out of the

gate. Espinoza, who had considered going to the lead from post 2, instead opted to take a hold of California Chrome entering the first turn and he was third early on.

“I feel like California Chrome was not the same as before that’s why I make my decision,” Espinoza said. “Before he breaks running and he take me right into the race. Today I feel like he was empty and not the same as before that’s why I decided to be behind the lead.”

Espinoza had California Chrome on the inside and in fourth down the backstretch after Tonalist joined the fray three wide. Espinoza said he took California Chrome to the outside and in the clear midway up the backside hoping that would rejuvenate the colt.

“I moved to the outside to see if it would make a difference, but it didn’t,” Espinoza said.

Even though California Chrome was just off the flank of Tonalist in upper stretch, Espinoza said he knew the horse wouldn’t accelerate to the wire.

“I was empty at the three-eighths,” Espinoza said.

So, the Triple Crown drought continues, having not been accomplished since Affirmed did it in 1978. This was the second time Espinoza had a chance to do it. In 2002, he was out of the race early with War Emblem who stumbled at the start.

This was the first time Espinoza lost on California Chrome in seven starts. He had won six stakes including the Derby, Preakness, and Santa Anita Derby.

“Regardless of what happened I’m going to move on,” Espinoza said “It was just an honor to have such a nice ride with all the victories we had together.”

Shibbley 9 months ago
Mr. Coburn, take advantage of the spot light and do this sport a solid. Announce to the national media every chance you get that you will be going where Tonalist goes. Tell them you believe your horse was beat by an inferior race horse due to circumstances and that you are out to prove who the better race horse is. Make news with it! Be Bold! We have a shot to make racing count for more than 5 weeks nationally. Help your sport and build a rivalry. East coast vs west coast, is a natural and you have an opportunity to promote the game. These opportunities are rare and need to be taken advantage of in this sport. One thing the owner of Tonalist was completely right about is that this sport refuses to sell itself and promote itself. Here is an opportunity, even if forced, it will be effective. Give promotion a chance and talk about how your horse is better than theirs and you are out to prove it. That gets things going for the people and the momentum it could build could be huge. Build it and they will come!
William Wiedmann 9 months ago
Victor road CC perfectly. When the stretch came we all expected the same spurt of energy that CC has always shown. It wasn't there. The injury may have played a part in why. Horses like people handle pain differently. What a shame not to see him at his peak. I still feel we would have had a new Triple Crown winner had he not been injured. Let's see what he does after he recovers. He can still be 3 year old horse of the year.
David Voelker 9 months ago
I though so too. Beyer sometimes doesn't know what he is talking about. He thinks everything out of his mouth is golden.
Fred Colon 9 months ago
I suspect that he is not riding this horse anymore.
RIP Grammar 9 months ago
Why, was it Victor's fault that the other horse stepped on his?
Mother 9 months ago
In the horse biggest race of its young life victor had a second chance to redeem himself but choked in a high stakes game of chicken, one in which victor lost horribly. I am suspecting a fix here, he will lose the breeders cup if victor is on him. all that stop riding showboating before the FINISH line caught up with him VICTOR
Mark D 9 months ago
He does NOT have a "grabbed quarter" grabbing a quarter is when a horses shoe takes off a chunk of another one of HIS OWN hoofs...usually the bottom part of the hoff. This was done by ANOTHER horse.
mike 9 months ago
Really? Guess in your mind nothing happened.
sjm80s . 9 months ago
Please know what you are talking about before you post.
Douglas Dennis 9 months ago
the money was on c.c. and the other guys knew to put all the money on another horse.the winner was chosen long befor the race
BoughPena 9 months ago
What about Samraat, right after coming out of the gate went all the way in, as if looking especially for California Chrome. Check the replay, Jose Ortiz the jockey on Samraat rode what seems a suspicious race. Ortiz then drops toward the rear. It's very simple just about every rider may be against a triple crown winner. Ortiz didn't need to do this.
Tony 9 months ago
Around the first turn I saw Commissioner throw back a banana peel. Down the lane Tonalist passed out some sexy centerfolds of Rags to Riches. Suspicious indeed.
Shibbley 9 months ago
Well, funny is funny, Tony, so I can't say much as to your negative intent. Comedy trumps all.
Mother 9 months ago
THEY GANGED UP ON CHROME, I BLAME VICTOR BAD HOOF OR NOT HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GONE. THAT IS STRANGE RIDING INDEED, A HORSE CROSS OVER 4 LANES TO BUMP ANOTHER THEN FALL ALL THE WAY TO LAST THEN ENSUE A LATE RALLY. WHY DIDNT THIS N.U.T ORTIZ GET DISQUALIFIED.
John Nicoletti 9 months ago
Unless you are a New York based trainer and horse, you will always be on the defensive, when you race in the Big Apple. Not saying their is a conspiracy, but New York being New York, they look out for their own. Does Smarty Jones ring a bell.?
Stanthetapman 9 months ago
Game effort after sustaining an injury and just being tired. Thank God there was not a more serious incident at the start. Chrome will recover and come back, no doubt.
fernando alvarez 9 months ago
As an expert in the field being a farrier for 30+ years nothing stops a horse more than a grabbed quarter,other than breaking down,of course.Thank God that didn't happen ! It takes a long while to heel and Chrome will be back to show his awesomeness against the same bunch. Take a well deserved rest Chrome ....... Good effort !
fernando alvarez 9 months ago
oops I meant heal..........I was the spelling bee champ in 6th grade,lol ! True story
Anonymous 9 months ago
Thank you, Mr. Alvarez, for providing knowledgable information and insight based on your decades of professional experience regarding this type of hoof injury. Judging from the close-up photo of Chrome's wound, all I can say is "ouch". That had to have hurt running 1 and 1/2 miles after the momentary adrenalin rush at the starting gate began to fade. Considering his injury and your comment " nothing stops a horse..." I think he did remarkably well.
Lee Jey 9 months ago
Running outta tissues here folks. Go home!
Shibbley 9 months ago
You are an idiot and have proved it.
rosendo 9 months ago
You're so lame.
Joe Dekarski 9 months ago
LOL, PERFECT
3Boys 2dogs 6Horses 9 months ago
You sound like Coburn! Classy
mike 9 months ago
Dunce!
mike 9 months ago
You embarrass yourself.
Chad mc rory 9 months ago
Dave, Please Email this piece to Beyer, WITH the photograph. He is just coming out of his stupor and obviously doesn't know that the Colt was hurt.
Lee Jey 9 months ago
Excuses excuses excuses. Never in my 20+ years enjoying horse racing have I seen and heard so much whining and unsportsmanlike conduct. Go home already. Get over it. Non Issue here's a tissue.