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Espinoza: Chrome 'Still Could Have Won' If Not for Foot Injury

From Louisville to Letterman to London, Victor Espinoza is piling up the Frequent Flyer mileage.

Recently back from the Triple Crown trail where he captured the first two jewels aboard the dragon-slaying California Chrome, only to miss in the Belmont Stakes, the 42-year-old jockey leaves for merry old England tomorrow to ride for the first time at the Royal Ascot meet starting Tuesday and running five days through next Saturday.

He took a moment before departing to reflect on his storybook journey with California Chrome, who sought to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner but finished in a dead-heat for fourth in the Belmont after daylight triumphs in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

“It was a great run for me and California Chrome,” Espinoza said. “He’s still my favorite. He ran a big race in the Belmont. Now that I’m back at Santa Anita, I was able to return to my normal routine for a couple of days before going to England.”

Second-guessers had their moment in the sun after the Belmont loss, but as is his wont, Espinoza took shots to the bow in stride.

“I think a lot of things went against him,” Espinoza said of California Chrome, who was unbeaten in six straight races with Espinoza up before the Belmont. “He was probably overwhelmed by the Belmont. I believe he still could have won if he hadn’t been kicked on his (right front) foot. That’s very painful for a horse.

“It may not seem like it, but that’s a tough spot to suffer a cut. It wasn’t easy to run well after what happened to him. You can make as many excuses as you want, but I really think it affected him. He didn’t get beat that far, either. Two lengths, that’s it.”

For now, Chromania is on the back burner, but both horse and jockey will live to fight another day. Tonight, Espinoza will make the coin toss at the Honda Center where the LA Kiss, whose owners include Gene Simmons of the fabled rock group, KISS, plays Portland at 7 p.m.

The game and the ceremony will be telecast by KCAL-9.

California Chrome is taking a welcome breather and not expected to race again until perhaps a month or so in front of the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run for the third consecutive year on the colt’s favorite track, Santa Anita, where he won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 5 in advance of his glorious triumph in the Run for the Roses.

Until then, it’s hi-yo, Victor, away!

 

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Older Comments about Espinoza: Chrome 'Still Could Have Won' If Not for Foot Injury...

There are no rules: EACH and EVERY race is new brining together of various horses of various abilities, at various levels of their form cycle and MOST IMPORTANT, bring together different doses of early presser and closer. EACH One each day on each track in North America
He should have taken Steven Coburn cue. The horse had no shot against talented fresh competition. Coburn was dead wrong about what "rules" there ought to be regarding Triple Crown races, but at least he was right as to the reason why his horse had no shot. And I have to laugh at the complaining of bad luck, I've never seen a Triple Crown contender have nearly as much good luck as Chrome had.
for years and yaers and years EVERYONE has told me and facts have substantiated the same NEVER listen to a rider's evaluation of a horse. They are almost as bad as trainers as handicappers.
Yes!!! Finally you heard it from the jockey!! I agree, he could have won it!! He really is an awesome horse! Can't wait to see him run again!!! Forever Chrome!!!
You think a fellow perched on the edge of a triple crown is going to be OBJECTIVE about?
A very big boo to you Victor . Personally i gave you the benefit of the doubt as riding him out in th race . I felt if you felt any soreness or discomfort with the horse,you would of put his health and well being ahead of Fame and Glory . Ok i never rode a horse in my life,so again i will give you the benefit of the doubt during the actual running. Maybe you and the horse were on a high during the race. What is the excuse after the wire,you allowed him to gallop out an additional half mile almost. Still no dismount or a signal to the Officials that he feels wrong. You were asked on National TV,he feels good doesn't he. You answered ,yes he does. While we are on the subject,maybe you and Coburn can take a cue from some CLASSY PEOPLE who rode that day. Pletcher,Javier and Winstar. You see they had the worst beat of all on the last jump at the wire. They did all the dirty work the entire race. If i am not mistaken,their horse came out of the race with a fracture. I am sure that happened after the race,when the horse was celebrating his 2nd place finish. No Victorio,it occured during the running. Yet i never heard any one of them pull out the excuse card. Especially 2 weeks after the fact,give it a rest already. I get it,you and the connections were close to the greatest feat anyone can achieve in this game. It had to feel like a dagger through the Heart after you lost. But like they say,one will never appreciate the end result ,if they never truly felt the Journey. So celebrate this horses achievements,and while your at it let your owner know also . Give it a rest and being the horses ass is never appealing.
  • Melann · You my friend are a bit daft, this is the guy that know the horse the best!! If he thought he could have won it without the injury, he would have!! I'm sure that if Victor had know he was injured he wouldn't have pushed him!! You can't tell me he knew, going 40mph on a race horse you have a million things to do, so your not looking at the horses feet!! · 38 days ago
  • Melann · You my friend are a bit daft, this is the guy that know the horse the best!! If he thought he could have won it without the injury, he would have!! I'm sure that if Victor had know he was injured he wouldn't have pushed him!! You can't tell me he knew, going 40mph on a race horse you have a million things to do, so your not looking at the horses feet!! · 38 days ago
Yes!!! Finally you heard it from the jockey!! I agree, he could have won it!! He really is an awesome horse! Can't wait to see him run again!!! Forever Chrome!!!
That was a little far fetched Tmallios dont ya think? CC was under the spot light the entire time compared to the rest of the field. He was running for the TC, they will be under the spot light for quite sometime. Espinoza was giving his opinion in a interview. Far from classless, Especially compared to Coburn.He took nothing away from the the other horses.
Everyone wants to be me. Can't blame them.
Doesn't sound like excuses tmallios. Everything had to go right for him to win and he didn't. This Belmont was faster than 14 of the last 20 and the mile and quarter was faster than the Derby time. Tonalist ran an awesome race and Chrome ran a great one, just not good enough. Chrome would have beaten Palace Malice by 5+ lengths based on the comparative times. He got the mile and a 1/2 - just got tired.
whats up with all the sullivan account?
No point in running him up there. Awesome Again > BCC > Donn > Dubai World Cup > Californian > Gold Cup > Whitney > Pacific Classic > BCC
If Chrome goes to Saratoga...I'm going to see him. I hope to see a rematch with him and Tonalist in the East.
ya i want to see chrome at saratoga too
Come to Saratoga Chrome

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