But neither of the two horses described was California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Instead, the Belmont turned out to be a bit of a replay of the Grade II Peter Pan, with Tonalist finishing ahead of Commissioner.
California Chrome is a horse that captured the hearts of many. He is a home bred for smaller connections who could run like a monster. Who couldn't like him? Especially after winning the first two legs, he had to be the Triple Crown winner, right? He was a lock.
No. There is no such thing as a lock, and he reminded us of that today. Horse racing is a very circumstantial game. Anything can happen, and a horse who may be by far the best race can be beaten if things don't go his way.
If you want to look at just why Chrome was not a lock, let's do just that.
1. The Belmont's distance of a mile and a half is very trying, especially here in North American where breeding is focused on speed more than stamina. No horse in the race had gone 12 furlongs, therefore no one could know who would be the best going 12 furlongs.
2. Chrome was making his third start in five weeks. It's difficult for a young horse to go long distances in a tightly packed schedule and always be 100%. Eventually, something has to give. It's simple as that.
3. He had no local experience, aside from a 1/2 mile work on May 31st. Belmont is a very sandy surface, unlike any track he had raced at before. The top two finishers were both exiting a race here at Belmont.
We all saw what happened. He finished evenly, flattening out down the stretch. It could happen, and it did. It would have been nice to see history made with a Triple Crown winner, but what happened happened.
As bettors and fans, we need to remember that nothing is 100% at the racetrack. Bettors need to remember that we are here to find value. Fans need to remember that it's not worth getting your heart broken when your horse loses. Anything can happen. Any horse can lose. We saw that today. Be sure to remember that before you claim any horse is a lock.