Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Tonalist wins Belmont Stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. — Robert Evans knows what it feels like to fall short of the Triple Crown.

His family owned Pleasant Colony, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1981 before finishing third in the Belmont Stakes. When Pleasant Colony lost, silence fell over his family's box.

Saturday, it was Evans' turn to play spoiler at Belmont Park.

His horse, Tonalist, won at Belmont, ending California Chrome's bid for the first Triple Crown since 1978. California Chrome finished far back in a tie for fourth with Wicked Strong. "I was slightly surprised," Evans said.

Tonalist beat Commissioner, another newcomer to the Triple Crown, by a head. Tonalist ran the distance in 2:28.52 and paid $20.40, $9.60 and $7.

Commissioner returned $23.20 and $13.20, and Medal Count was another length back in third and paid $13.20 to show.

Samraat was sixth, followed by General a Rod, Matterhorn, Commanding Curve, Matuszak and Ride On Curlin.

California Chrome broke quickly but was pressed immediately by Commissioner and General a Rod. Jockey Victor Espinoza eased California Chrome back into third along the rail.

Approaching the final turn, California Chrome was maneuvered to the outside. He angled four-wide turning for home, just to the outside of Tonalist, who was close to the pace the entire race. Espinoza started whipping left-handed in the lane, but California Chrome had no response.

The victory was the first in the Belmont Stakes for jockey Joel Rosario. He finished third the past two years, riding Brilliant Speed in 2012 and Orb last year.

"Tonalist is just kind of a big horse, and he has one long stride and just grinds it and keeps on going and going, keeps on coming, and he got the job done," Rosario said.

"This horse, he did very good (Saturday). I'm a little bit upset about California Chrome. If I was going to get beat, I wanted to get beat by him."

Though California Chrome had never run at Belmont, Tonalist is very familiar with the course. He is stabled at Belmont and won the Peter Pan, the traditional tuneup for the Belmont Stakes, on May 10.

"That proved he was a good horse," Evans said. "We had four weeks to get ready for this."

He almost didn't own Tonalist, but because of a tie to Pleasant Colony, who is the sire of Tonalist's dam, he decided to purchase the colt.

Chrome hurts foot: California Chrome sustained a bloody gash to his right front foot Saturday, but his camp said it wasn't serious. Photos taken while the horse was walking back to the barn after his loss show the injured hoof. It wasn't clear when the injury happened.

Undercard: Palace Malice, last year's Belmont winner, won the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap. The 4-year-old, trained by Todd Pletcher, drove through an opening on the rail underneath jockey John Velazquez to beat Goldencents, last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner, by a length. … Kid Cruz, owned by Steven Brandt and Rick Boylan of St. Pete Beach and once under consideration for the Belmont, won the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds. The colt, who is trained by Linda Rice and finished eighth in the Preakness, rallied from last for his fourth win in seven starts, covering 11/16 miles in 1:41.12. … Undrafted, owned by Broncos receiver Wes Welker, won the $300,000 Jaipur Invitational for grass sprinters.

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