BELMONT STAKES (Grade 1)
Belmont Park, Dirt, 2400m
7 June 2014
It will be at least 37 years between Triple Crown sweeps as California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit)’s dream run through the spring Classics came to a crushing end in front of a crowd of 102,199 at Belmont Park Saturday. The Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and Grade 1 Preakness Stakes hero, favored at 4-5 to add the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, toiled home a dead-heat fourth, while Robert Evans’sTonalist (Tapit) produced a dramatic late rally to just get his nose in front of pacesetting Commissioner (A.P. Indy) in the shadow of the wire.
“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,” jockey Victor Espinoza said of the beaten favorite.
“It’s a tough grind on these young horses,” said Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to California Chrome’s 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman. “He tried hard and ran hard and took us all on the ride of our lives.”
Breaking from post two, California Chrome was bumped by longshot Matterhorn (Tapit) coming out of the gate and suffered a cut to his root front foot, but was near the front going into the first turn. Espinoza took the flashy chestnut in hand, ceding the early lead to Commissioner who set a pedestrian pace. California Chrome stalked the tempo along the rail, while eventual winner Tonalist was racing in the clear just to his outside. The crowd’s favorite was angled out on the bend, while Tonalist made a strong move to challenge for the lead. California Chrome was five wide into the stretch and briefly looked set to produce the powerful late run which propelled him to victory in Louisville and Baltimore, but he flattened out just as Tonalist was finding his best stride.
“This is the Belmont, so this is great,” winning jockey Joel Rosario said. “This horse, he did very good today. I’m a little bit upset about California Chrome. If I was going to get beat, I wanted to just get beat by him.”
Winning trainer Christophe Clement added, “It’s a great win, it’s great for the team, for the staff, for the owner, Mr. Evans, who believed in us. He trained great, he looked great before the race. I’m absolutely delighted that he won.” Evans added, “We loved California Chrome, we hoped he would win the Triple Crown, but we love our horse too.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News