Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Chrome' Loses Lots of Luster

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Chrome' Loses Lots of Luster

Article excerpt

ELMONT, N.Y. -- An estimated 120,000 fans were on their feet early Saturday evening, trying to get a better view as the horses sped toward the finish line at the Belmont Stakes.

They were hoping to see history. And for California Chrome, bidding for the first Triple Crown since 1978, history was in sight as he turned down the home stretch. But when jockey Victor Espinoza asked for more, whipping with his left hand, California Chrome had nothing left.

Tonalist sprinted across the finish line first, as the collective groan from the crowd fell over Belmont Park like dusk.

History will have to wait. Again.

Tonalist won the Belmont, ending California Chrome's bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did it 36 years ago.

California Chrome emerged from the final turn on the outside of a four-wide pack fighting for the lead. But he faded at the finish, as Tonalist, which had been near the lead the entire race, pushed his way to the win and $800,000 payday.

Instead of becoming the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, California Chrome became the 20th to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes only to fall short of history in this grueling 1 1/ 2-mile race.

California Chrome finished in a dead-heat for fourth place with Wicked Strong, behind Tonalist, Commissioner and Medal Count. Tonalist, a 9-1 betting choice paid $20.40 to win.

"I thought he was gaining ground, but he didn't have it in him," California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn said immediately after the race -- launching into a complaining session about the state of horse racing, in which Coburn's main gripe is that other owners had sat their horses out the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to have a chance to spoil history.

"Our horse had a target on his back," Coburn said. "If you've got a horse, run him in all three. I'll never see -- and I'm 61 years old -- another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime because of the way they do this.

"It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day One. …

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