No crown for California Chrome
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Going 1 ½ miles in his third race in five weeks took its toll on California Chrome, who encountered no traffic problems and sat third in the 11-horse field for much of the race. He was in ideal tracking position, similar to the Derby and Preakness, but failed to react the same way when Espinoza asked him for another gear. “Turning for home I was just waiting to have the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little flat down the lane,” he said.
Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 77-year-old trainer, was unavailable for comment after the race. His son, assistant trainer Alan Sherman, said: “That horse tried, that’s all you can ask for. I saw Victor starting to squeeze on him a little, and he didn’t respond the way he has in the past.”
It was only the fifth lifetime start for Tonalist, who was coming off a victory in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 10 over a sloppy Belmont surface. Trained by Christophe Clement, he’s the ninth consecutive horse to win the Belmont Stakes after skipping the Preakness, finishing in 2:28.52.
“We were a little bit nervous about having the outside post and how he would react to the crowd,” Tonalist owner Robert Evans said. “It didn’t bother him a bit. He broke well, got in a good position and Joel rode him beautifully.
“We loved California Chrome,” Evans added. “We hoped he would win the Triple Crown. But we love our horse, too.”