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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Tonalist Takes the Belmont; California Chrome 4th

 
Belmont Park was packed with racing fans new and old. All through the day fans dressed in the purple and green of California Chrome walked down to the paddock rail to take pictures of Secretariat’s statue in hope that there would be a new Triple Crown winner. However, on this beautiful June day it was not meant to be as Tonalist was able to catch the front running, Commissioner right at the wire. The best that California Chrome could do was a dead heat for fourth place with Wicked Strong.


The Belmont began with a clean break as California Chrome and Commissioner went to lead in a :24.06 first quarter. As the horses went around the first turn jockey Victor Espinoza had California Chrome settle back in fourth along the rail. The fractions were :48.52, 1:12.84. Entering the turn Espinoza moved his horse to the outside and he began to make his usual closing move. After a mile in 1:37.13 it started to look like California Chrome did not have his usual burst of speed down the stretch.


Espinoza explained what was different today, “I thought he was a little tired turning for home, I was just waiting for the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little bit flat down the lane. I was nice and comfortable and when I moved outside he just didn’t have that kick today.”


Coming down the stretch Commissioner was on the rail and still on lead, but Tonalist was steadily moving towards him. With a quarter mile left Tonalist was a half-length behind. In the end he would beat Commissioner by a head.


Joel Rosario, who won his first Belmont Stakes said, “This horse, he did very good today. I’m a little bit upset about California Chrome. If I was going to get beat, I wanted to just get beat by him. Tonalist is just kind of a big horse, and he has a long stride and he just grind it, and keeps on going and going, keeps on coming, and he got the job done today.”


Both Tonalist and Commissioner prepped for the Belmont in the Peter Pan on May 10th and today they repeated their exacta finish. This time Tonalist was sent off as the 9.20-1 fifth betting choice and Commissioner was 28-1. Their 11-8 Belmont exacta paid $174 for a $1 bet. Tonalist returned $20.40, $9.60, $7.00 to his backers.


In the end, Tonalist’s trainer Christophe Clement said, “It’s a great win, it’s great for the team, for the staff, for the owner, Mr. Evans, who believed in us. I’m absolutely thrilled. This race means a lot being a New Yorker.”


“There is nothing negative about winning, said Clement about beating California Chrome. “California Chrome did great things. He was great in the Derby. He was great in the Preakness.”



So once again, in 2014, horse racing does not have a Triple Crown winner. California Chrome becomes the 13th horse since Affirmed to not win the Belmont Stakes after victory in the Derby and the Preakness. We are once again reminded of the difficulty of winning all three legs. As to not diminish what California Chrome has accomplished this year, one only needs to think about the other 12 horses that met the same fate. That group includes Hall of Famers, Horses of the Year, and all 12 went on to be named champion of the three-year-old male division. 
 

 

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Older Comments about Tonalist Takes the Belmont; California Chrome 4th...

The most impressive horse from the Belmont imo was Commissioner. I picked hime to win and he just missed wiring the field. Ap Indy horses mature slower and as he gets older and fills out all the way, I think he'll be the best horse of this crop of three year olds. I like the AP Indy horses and I think Commissioner can continue to improve much like Take Charge Indy. TCI was looking awesome before his injury and was just coming into his own at the time of his injury and was looking like he could be the top horse in our country if not the world prior to injury. If Honor Code can get back to form, I still think he has a lot of potential as well. AP Indy is showing his influence with Commissioner, Commanding Curve, Tonalist, Chrome and in general horses down from AP Indy's son Pulpit. Six of the Eleven starters in the Belmont had AP in them close up in the pedigree. Time will tel but I really like Commissioner. I think he has a ton of upside.
No new shooters as singleton! If you skip the Derby and want to run in the others, you must run in both!
If they are going to change history. The should just stopping calling it the triple crown in my opinion. Because if a horse was to win a modified version of the TC, I would never compare that horse to the likes of Affirmed, Slew, Secretariat, Citation and etc...
If the Triple Crown commission wanted to change the Scheduling of the 3 races , assuming it is for the right reasons . By this i mean , do it because it makes sense for the horses and helps them with recovery time. But do not do it for the chances to improve for a TC winner. I am sorry,if it is that important forsomeone to see a TC winner. Get a life already, it is not that important . I for one have never considered myself as to being sentimental nor a traditionalist about Horse Racing. But one thing i will say,should they amend the scheduling. I for one would never recognize the winner as a Tc winner as his predecessors. I saw 3 TC winners in my lifetime,here is a Newsflash. It did not make my life or lifestyle any better. It is a game and nothing else ,if you are a fan. At least Baby Huey agreed with me on 1 thing i always say. It is never about the good of the game. It is about the good of the connections.It is not an owners job to worry about the Welfare of the game. Unless they are somehow involved in a manegerial or decision making position.
To me changing aspects of the TC merely ignores the deeper problems in racing and is similar to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Kay. I agree Coburn is provoking a debate which is on the heels of the head of Pimlico calling for changes in the TC schedule and of course the infamous PETA video. Racing does need to make changes, particularly in after care and race days med rules. My problem is that if the focus is on changing aspects of the TC like the schedule between the races or even the competitors who can run, they are missing the point that the lack of stamina breeding and the shortening of the races along with the continued race day med usage has caused the lack of TC winners.
In 1986, Eddie Arcaro gave an interview in which he was asked whether there would be another TC winner and he said no there wouldn't be. He cited the larger foal crops, the lack of racing starts, inbreeding, stamina issues.
If it was easy, than there would be more winners of the triple crown. Right now the elusive triple crown is what keeps peoples attention on the sport. If they change the method its run as, by shortening distances or spacing out the races, and you start getting triple crown winners every 2 or 3 years, the mystique and the passion would be lost, and the sport would die faster than a New York minute. Then asterisks would have to be involved in it. And its the difficulty that makes America's Triple Crown, the greatest of all the Triple Crowns run all over the world, which is why the whole world watches it,and from the richest people in the world to the blue collar common folk dream of one day winning it. . Secretariat and the others, were Super Horses. Secretariat, to this date if he ran the Triple Crown, would win it every year, proof of it is that his record times still stand today. The Triple Crown is not supposed to or should ever be easy, and its because of that, god willing, that we will be back next year, watching the Triple Crown, hoping and rooting for a contender to win it after 37 years. How hard is it to win the Triple Crown, how hard is it period to win 3 straight grade 1 races on dirt over 1 1/8 miles period. I read an excellent study a few days ago. It states "Since 1973, only six horses at any point in their career have won three consecutive grade I races longer than 1 1/8 miles on dirt (or synthetic): Alysheba, Easy Goer, and Gentlemen as well as Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed.
Or maybe we could as a sport get back to running horses every two weeks or so. This would give the Preakness horses a bit of an "advantage" as they would have a bit more rest than usual.
I have a suggestion for the Belmont when a horse is alive for the Triple Crown. Any horse that did not start in 1 of the 2 previous Triple Crown races is not allowed to start in the Belmont. I know I would be upset that the 1st and 2nd horses in this years race skipped both the Derby and Preakness. All could be in race IF nobody is going for the Triple Crown. Just throwing that out there...
I do not agree with Coburn's comments, and I especially dislike him calling the connections of the winner cowardly. But two things - he is not a polished professional used to being in the public eye. He is giving what he honestly feels rather than generic non-answers as we so often see from public figures. And secondly and much more importantly - he has started a passionate debate which may or may not help change the sport for the better. This sport is going to die unless they find ways to curb unneeded medication use (such as thyroid meds for horses who are not hypothyroid), find ways to kindly retire the horses rather than having them end up for sale in kill auctions or starving in rescues, and improving on track safety for both horses and riders. Change has got to happen in this sport if it wishes to exist. We need debate and change and improvement. While I do not agree with Coburn on this particular point, the debate is still worthwhile.
I think the rules for the tripple crown are unfair when you allow horses to race that did not race in the Kentucky derby. California chrome brought a lot of attention to horse racing by people that normally don't watch it. I am one of them and wasn't aware that a fresh horse could be brought in to the last race. To me, that is very unfair and I will not watch anymore horse races until the rules are changed.
EP, I understand your point, but he has had BC Juvenile Fillies winner, Stardom Bound; BC Dirt Mile winner, Tapizar; and Kentucky Oaks winner, Untapable. Careless Jewel won at 1 1/4 mi. as an older mare, I believe. It will be interesting to see what Tonalist accomplishes going forward. He's awfully big for his age, too, 17h. and growing.....
One Belmont winner, and on BC Juvenile Winner, how many others?
Charliep- How many times was Tapit bred to mare laced with tons of stamina? MANY> Just because he has one that actually didn't run up the track and hit the wore first out of how many crops?....is still not impressive for a stallion demanding such a high stud fee.
Coburn's remarks, however inelegant or ill-timed, are speaking truth to power. The Triple Crown setup is unfair to everyone, most importantly, to the horses. Yes, horses have managed the Triple Crown feat in the past. The dirty little secret is that some had been treated with steroids, now banned. Coburn should have passed on the Belmont if he has always thought it an unfair, impossible expectation for any horse. But the whole thing needs to be examined and adjusted if necessary to make it less damaging to the horses and more of a fair fight. We need to stop ruining horses at the age of three. Thanks to a hotheaded owner with a mic in his face, this discussion is really out there now.
  • ktw321 · Yeah, if he really believes it's so unfair he always had the option to sit it out in protest. Hell, that woulda got everyones attention huh · 50 days ago
You bring up a salient point, swiss. We'll never know which horses were given anabolics in the past TC campaigns, but they were allowed/legal until the end of 2008, and were certainly in use in both humans and equines for many years prior to that. What may be damaging to the young horses on the TC trail now, and for approximately the past 20 years is the concomitant use of furosemide and bute. These meds are clearly contraindicated for usage at the same time. Whether the furosemide inhibits pulmonary bleeding or not, the bute increases bleeding tendencies in general, so it makes no sense. It can't be advantageous over the course of the TC grind. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/hrs3708
It seems Coburn has found a way to keep himself in the limelight, at least a bit longer.
100 BSF for Tonalist's Belmont win.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

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