Triple Crown Eluded: Tonalist Upsets Cal Chrome in Belmont Stakes

Posted by Jaclyn Harris on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 @ 14:54 PM

On Sat., June 7, over 20.6 million viewers tuned in to see if California Chrome would make history securing the 146th Belmont Stakes. There’s no denying that fans of California Chrome were awaiting the storybook ending to unfold – the viewership of the race was the second highest in the Belmont’s history, and is the most-watched weekend sporting event since the Sochi Winter Olympics!

California Chrome held the best odds on race day despite the high level of competition that awaited him at the track. However, luck was not with Chrome as he raced, finishing fourth behind Tonalist, Commissioner and Medal Count.

So what happened? Did Chrome have a bad break from the gate? Could he not clear the field? Was it the distance? Read on for the full race recap!

“And They’re Off!”

California Chrome broke strong from the gate and maintained his position on the pole for a good portion of the race. Jockey Victor Espinoza timed Chrome well with the goal of not exerting him to early in, with the looming distance of 1 ½ miles ahead of them.

Commissioner took the lead early and began to set the pace, followed by General a Rod and Tonalist on the outside.

If you read Derby Experiences Belmont Stakes Preview before the race, you were prepared for Commissioner and Tonalist to take an early lead.

Commissioner was built for stamina and has proven he could run all day – a definite problem for Chrome. Tonalist, sired by Tapit (the most sought-out sire) had been winning Grade Stakes races left and right! His bloodlines proved before the race that he could handle this distance.

And that’s what this race came down to – stamina! As Commissioner held his lead all the way to the backstretch, jockey Joel Rosario held Tonalist back in fourth place looking for his break. As Medal Count and Wicked Strong were urged forward, space on the rail became too tight and Espinoza led California Chrome to the outside where he found Tonalist.

With several furlongs to go, Rosario urged Tonalist to close and the horse surged forward with an impressive closing speed, proving his endurance to those watching. Commissioner fought to keep his lead, but could not open his gate to compete with the burst of speed shown by the Tapit colt.

Espinoza asked for more coming into the final furlongs, but the distance proved to be too much for Chrome as he fell to fourth.

Tonalist crossed the finish line a head before Commissioner becoming the 2014 Belmont Stakes Champion! The Triple Crown proved to be elusive once again.

The Final Results.

Belmont Stakes Results

The Controversy.

After the race, Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, shared some harsh words when it came to the Triple Crown series and the upset. He shared his opinion that it is unfair for trainers and owners to rest their horses during the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby and then run them in the Belmont Stakes.

Coburn believes that the horses that enter the Derby should be the only horses allowed to compete in the whole series and they should run each of the three races. He made the statement that it was the “coward’s way out” to rest horses when Chrome, in the running for the Triple Crown, competed in each race in a six week time span.

While some horse racing fans and trainers agree with Coburn, many others stated that they believe that any qualified horse should compete in any of the Triple Crown series races. It’s believed that this is what makes the Triple Crown so special when it is attained – that this horse has surpassed all odds and all fatigue to prove that it’s the best of the best. After all, the elusiveness of the Triple Crown is what makes it so desirable!

What do you think? Do you agree with Coburn? What do you think about his statements? What do you think about the Tonalist upset? Share your opinion with us in the comments below.

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Topics: Kentucky Derby

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Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 


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