06/07/2014 7:09PM

California Chrome's Triple Crown bid denied by Tonalist

Barbara D. Livingston
Tonalist (left) gets up to win the Belmont over Commissioner with Medal Count (background) third.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Another Triple Crown down the drain.

Tonalist, with Joel Rosario riding, posted a narrow victory over Commissioner in the 146th Belmont Stakes before a packed house Saturday at Belmont Park as California Chrome faded in the final furlong to finish in a dead heat for fourth, becoming the 12th Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to fail in the Test of the Champion since Affirmed became the last horse to sweep the Triple Crown in 1978.

Tonalist, owned by Robert S. Evans and trained by Christophe Clement, returned $20.40 after finishing the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:28.52 over a fast track. Commissioner, on the lead throughout under Javier Castellano at 28-1, only gave way in the final yards when losing by a head. Medal Count, a 24-1 shot, was third, another length back, while California Chrome dead-heated for fourth with Wicked Strong, another three-quarters of a length back.

California Chrome, the 4-5 favorite under Victor Espinoza, made a menacing outside move in upper stretch but had no final punch. Near the early lead while saving ground, he was angled out on the final turn and had every chance to go past Commissioner, but it was Tonalist who closed best while California Chrome labored home.

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

Espinoza put a brave face on the disappointing defeat in a post-race conference, saying the colt “was just a little bit empty today.”

Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, was less gracious in a post-race interview with NBC Sports when blaming other jockeys for “going after” his horse.

Tonalist was a Kentucky Derby candidate but had to miss the May 3 classic at Churchill Downs because of a brief illness. The victory was the first in a Triple Crown event for Clement, a New York-based Frenchman heretofore best known for his prowess with older turf horses.

Tonalist, a bay colt by Tapit, was making his fifth career start and was coming off a four-length victory in the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes. He was bred in Kentucky by Woodslane Farm.

The win was the second in a Triple Crown event for Rosario, a native of the Dominican Republic. He won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb.

After the top five, the order of finish was Samraat, General a Rod, Matterhorn, Commanding Curve, Matuszak, and Ride On Curlin.

The $2 exacta (11-8) paid $348 and the $1 trifecta (11-8-1) returned $3,390.50. There were two winning 10-cent superfectas: 11-8-1-2 paid $380.80, and 11-8-1-9 paid $573.35.

There have been 11 Triple Crown winners since 1919, the latest being Affirmed. Subsequent Derby-Preakness winners that failed to win the Belmont were Spectacular Bid (1979), Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), and Big Brown (2008). In 2012, I’ll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness but did not start in the Belmont because of injury.


Maynard More than 1 year ago
There were fresh horses in the Belmont with Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid. The only one to lose was the Bid. At least his trainer, Bud Delp, was smart enough to blame it on a safety pin and not other riders, trainers and the open entries for the Preakness and the Belmont. I was telling people on one of these forums that Chrome's problem was his training was not for the distance because they kept pulling him up at the wire instead of making him gain stamina and understanding that longer was coming. Of course, his parents had the lowest average for producing distance winners in the field. Commissioner was the son of a Belmont winner who was not in the Derby, A. P. Indy, and a grandson of the horse that spoiled Silver Charm's Triple,Touch Gold, who was also not in the Derby. Baffert and the owner Mike Pegram took the loss well and went on to win the richest race in the world with Silver Charm. To be fair, Sherman was quite gracious but I think Mr. Coburn may have had a few before the races and that will make almost anyone a little outspoken. He has had a great run with a beautiful horse and should clear the air by apologizing and telling everyone he is going back to the drawing board. He can afford to have his mare bred to a more distance oriented stud for another go round. Why, he could even buy some more $8K mares to await Chrome's retirement.
Leo Oilisab More than 1 year ago
how many opponents does secretariat and affirmed? 5 and how many are fresh? after that an average field of 11. i am not taking away anything from these two great horses but if there was 5 more additional field and went with the lead the results could be the same or maybe different as the famous Bailey did. Coburn has a point. if CC won his stock will go up and it means existing breeding stock will go down. these millionaire will not allowed CC stock to go up and theirs is to go down. Coburn is no millionaire before CC.
Carlos Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
John Badome More than 1 year ago
I agree with Coburn, So long as a fresh horse is waiting for the Derby and Preakness winner at Belmont we may never see another TC winner.However calling the winner Tonalist and his connections cowards was not called for, he should have made that remark before the race and avoid appearing as a sawlooser. CC is a very good horse but not a Super Horse in a year of mediocre competition. It was a great ride and fantasy that had to end with CC just not having enough, Oh well 37 years and counting!!!
Kurt Sholar More than 1 year ago
It would have been a 3 horse race then idiot. Do you think that everyone would come out to see a 3 horse race every year? No. Then no one would care about the Belmont Stakes anymore.
Darlene Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Just my opinion, you know everyone has one. I think all the horse to have to run all three races. I do not think they should be able to pick and chose. That way all of them have a far shot at it. Darlene
Kurt Sholar More than 1 year ago
It would have been a 3 horse race then idiot. Do you think that everyone would come out to see a 3 horse race every year? No. Then no one would care about the Belmont Stakes anymore.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
they turned down a 35 mill offer to not run him just like IHA last year. I would probably be mad too. to bad so sad.
Robert Dial More than 1 year ago
The bad part about being a good sport is that you must lose to prove it.
Lisa Fox More than 1 year ago
He grabbed a quarter and still ran 4th? I know that shows alot of heart. He will stand in history as a great horse and he has earned it!
Matt Zebriski More than 1 year ago
Why can't people appreciate the fact that it takes a super horse to win the TC...some argue the breed has changed, but even if it has, horses race against each other, not the clock. When baseball's coveted TC was elusive, did owners decide to move fences in 100 feet, or award RBIs for advancing a runner to 3rd base? All this talk is ridiculous. Real Quiet got beat by a poor error in judgement by a jockey who moved a bit too quickly; Smarty Jones was done in by an opposing jockey, Bailey, whose agent unsuccessfully lobbied for the KD mount; and Chrome was undone by 2 lengths...two lengths!!! It took 26 years before Secretariat came along. Spectacular Bid was probably as good as any TC winner with the exception of Secretariat, and he lost! It's hard, it's supposed to be hard. Would we prefer it if our TC was as irrelevant as Canada's? If the game was so easy, the Sheik would win everything because he has the best bloodlines, but he hasn't even won a Derby yet! Instead of crying foul because we don't get a TC winner, we should all be praying for the same scenario year after year...120,000 at Belmont...they don't get that many all year combined anymore!
Gregory Faramelli More than 1 year ago
100000% AGREE^
John Anderson More than 1 year ago
Hi Matt I agree with almost all of your post except for your shot at the Canadian TC. I do believe it takes a special horse foaled in Canada to win the TC. They have to win on polytrack, dirt then turf. I understand it does not have the significance of the American TC but to call it irrelevant is disrespectful to all racing fans in Canada.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where are all the 49,000 people who were paid on the exacta tonalist-commish?
RIP Grammar More than 1 year ago
Matterhorn jumped on him leaving the gate and tore his quarter off. Pretty impressive that he dead-heated for fourth after running a mile and half with a torn quarter. I'm proud of you Chromio.
Ace More than 1 year ago
RIP Grammar More than 1 year ago
Nonsense? Have you seen the pictures? Chrome wins if part of his foot isn't missing.