Tonalist wins Belmont Stakes, foils California Chrome's Triple Crown bid
California Chrome finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown.
It all seemed to be in line for California Chrome. He was third in the back stretch, just as his trainer had hoped.
But, as has been the case in recent history, it wasn't to be.
Tonalist closed strong and swept past Commissioner to win the Belmont Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park. California Chrome finished in a dead-heat for fourth, with Commissioner second and Medal Count third.
After the race, California Chrome owner Steve Coburn had pointed words about the Triple Crown system, which must be noted, has never changed. In an interview with NBC, Coburn passionately argued that horses that haven't entered either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness be disallowed from competing in the Belmont.
It may be important to note that Tonalist was derailed from the Derby trail due to a lung infection that knocked him out of the Wood Memorial.
Regardless, Coburn didn't mince words.
"This is the coward's way out," Coburn said, defiantly wagging his finger.
That makes five times in eight years that the Belmont winner didn't run in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness.
6:45 p.m. ET: Kid Cruz, named for Victor Cruz, won the second today at Belmont. Undrafted, named for and owned by Wes Welker, won the fourth. Matuszak is named for the late John Matuszak, a former NFL player.
6:38 p.m. ET: As is tradition, "New York, New York" being crooned as the horses make their way to the track. Tom Hammond of NBC has continually noted how calm Chrome looks, but there's no discernible difference between him and the rest of the field.
6:35 p.m. ET: Note: People like Chrome.
Belmont Park tote board shows $8,645,146 bet on California Chrome to win. No other horse has as much as $2.5 million.— Tim Sullivan (@TimSullivan714) June 7, 2014
6:25 p.m. ET: Art Sherman, Chrome's trainer, told NBC he expects his horse to be around third place on the back stretch. As noted, this typically isn't a race where you can wire the field. It has happened, but it's built more for closers.
6:15 p.m. ET: NBC caught up with several trainer prior to the race -- they all seem pretty interested in winning!
Joking aside, many of them spoke highly of Chrome and his connections, and hope for a good, safe race. The horses are in the paddock.
5:50 p.m. ET: Updated odds, again from DRF.com:
Medal Count - 26-1
California Chrome - 4-5
Matternhorn - 38-1
Commanding Curve - 8-1
Ride On Curlin - 7-1
Matuszak - 31-1
Samraat - 19-1
Commissioner - 27-1
Wicked Strong - 5-1
General A Rod - 36-1
Tonalist - 14-1
Not a lot of movement. Good value in Tonalist and Medal Count.
5:45 p.m. ET: We're now about an hour from post time, so I suppose it's proper to lend some credence to California Chrome. Here he is, by the way:
California Chrome pic.twitter.com/VeTeATn7RS— Sean Gregory (@seanmgregory) June 7, 2014
He has won six races in a row. If he wins his seventh, he'll become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 36 years. That's pretty significant. Tip of the cap to you, sir.
This will be the longest race of his life.
5:15 p.m. ET: Here's a bit more betting fodder sure to be wrong: Medal Count, starting on the rail, is out of Dynaformer, a turf legend. This is significant because such a status indicates that Dynaformer, and to an extent, Medal Count, is a closer. As we've seen in previous years, it's not uncommon for favorites to run out of gas in the last few furlongs of the Belmont.
But Medal Count's situation is compelling. His connections want him in the lead at the start, which calls to mind the wire-to-wire win by Da' Tara in 2008, when he beat Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown.
As of 4 p.m. ET, Medal Count was 25-1.
5 p.m. ET: Tough, but fair.
I just hope California Chrome doesn't cramp up tonight and have to listen to how tough Secretariat was.— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) June 7, 2014
4:45 p.m. ET: Speaking of Palace Malice, he just went off as the heavy favorite in the Met Mile, which he won by a length with a late charge.
4:40 p.m. ET: If you're looking for reasons to pick anyone but Chrome to win this evening, here's a somewhat intriguing tidbit favoring Ride On Curlin. His father, Curlin, was the betting favorite in the 2007 Belmont (and eventual Horse of the Year), which he ended up losing to Rags to Riches. Last year's Belmont winner, Palace Malice, was sired by Curlin, as well.
4:25 p.m. ET: Here are the most current odds from Belmont Park, courtesy of DRF.com:
Medal Count - 25-1
California Chrome - 4-5
Matterhorn - 40-1
Commanding Curve - 8-1
Ride On Curlin - 7-1
Matuszak - 30-1
Samraat - 2O-1
Commissioner - 29-1
Wicked Strong - 6-1
General A Rod - 37-1
Tonalist - 15-1
Chrome is still the clear favorite, but he's up a touch from the 3-5 morning line.
4:15 p.m. ET: While you wait, let's shoot back in time like 40 years to Secretariat's victory at the Belmont. Here he is with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard at the top of the stretch.
He would go on to edge second-place finisher Sham by roughly a football field, or 31 lengths. Seriously.
Watch the full race here. It's not exciting at all, but damn impressive.
4 p.m. ET: We're just shy of three hours from post-time at the Belmont Stakes, but there has already been a bit of excitement at Belmont Park -- mostly with an NFL flair.
First, Kid Cruz -- named for Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz -- won the second. Later, the Wes Welker-owned Undrafted won the fourth on the turf.
Make it rain, Wes.
California Chrome will look to make history Saturday at the Belmont Stakes when he tries to become just the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown.
Chrome won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes fairly comfortably. That doesn't really mean much heading into the Belmont, however, as history has shown. Still, Chrome is a heavy favorite, so there's a pretty good chance we'll be seeing history Saturday.
The field is heavy with contenders -- notably Tonalist and Wicked Strong -- so it will be anything but a walk for Chrome.
This page will be updated frequently with news, pictures, and videos from Belmont Park leading up to the race. Post time is 6:52 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, go here for the field and morning line odds.
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