The dream of the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years ended today on the New York track known as Big Sandy, when California Chrome fought valiantly down the home stretch to dead-heat for fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
Fans around the world watched with their hearts in their mouths as California Chrome stormed into the final stretch five wide and made his bid for the first Triple Crown win since Affirmed in 1978.
It was not to be. He made few inroads as jockey Victor Espinoza cracked him into top gear for the drive home.
The winner of the mile and a half $US1.5 million race was Tonalist in 2:28.52. Commissioner filled second spot, with Medal Count third. California Chrome tied for fourth with Wicked Strong.
The race had captured the imagination of the public over the last fortnight, when California Chrome wrapped up the second leg of the Triple Crown – the Preakness Stakes – at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland. It followed his impressive win in the first leg, the Kentucky Derby.
All eyes then turned to Belmont Park.
The race got under way at 6.55pm in New York, with Chrome second in the draw. He move a little sideways out of the starting gates but settled comfortably into second, before easing back to third on the first turn.
He was well placed in fourth for much of the run around the back stretch, going through the half-mile in about 48.4sec.
He rounded the bend into the final straight five wide from the barrier, but his finish wasn’t good enough to claim the win.