California Chrome’s bid to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978 fell short today at the Belmont Stakes as Tonalist upset the colt on the 1 1/2-mile track.
The odds-on favorite to make history today at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, California Chrome never led during the race. Tonalist went off at 11-1, Commissioner finished second, Medal Count was third. California Chrome finished in a dead heat for fourth.
California Chrome’s owners missed out on millions of dollars with the loss. Stud fees for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will likely bring in roughly $8 million, about half of what the horse could have made as a Triple Crown winner.
After the race co-owner Steve Coburn criticized the set-up of the race, which allows horses -- like today’s top three finishers -- that don’t compete in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to race at Belmont. Coburn called it a “coward’s way out.”
“I’m 61 years old, and I’ll never see in my lifetime another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this,” Coburn said in a televised interview. “It’s not fair to the horses that have been in the game since Day 1.”
It’s the 13th time since Affirmed’s Triple Crown win in 1978 that a horse won the first two legs of the series without taking home the Triple Crown. The most recent was in 2012, when I’ll Have Another was scratched a day before the race with a leg injury. The most recent to run the race with a Triple Crown on the line was Big Brown in 2008, who was pulled up before the finish line.
California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last month, went off today as a 4-5 odds-on favorite, the eighth odds-on favorite at the Belmont since Affirmed’s win in 1978. Of those eight horses whose odds said they were more likely to win than the rest of the field, none finished first.
Tonalist won $800,000 of the $1.5 million purse for finishing first. Commissioner won $280,000 for second and Medal Count earned $150,000.
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