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For the second time in his career, Victor Espinoza lost his bid to win the Triple Crown coming out of the gate. The first time was when War Emblem stumbled during the break and got bumped hard, only to come in 8th back in 2002. The second time was when Matterhorn’s left foreleg stepped on California Chrome’s right hoof and they exited post positions 3 and 2 respectively at the start of the 146th Belmont Stakes on Saturday. The accident took a good quarter chunk out of Chrome’s hoof, but luckily did not cut into his tendon, which would have ended his racing career for good. Yet, despite the pain and blood, California Chrome held on gallantly and finished in a dead heat for fourth with Wicked Strong, just 1-3/4 lengths behind longshot winner Tonalist.
“It was scary to come back to the barn and see his foot bleeding,” stated trainer Art Sherman. “It might have been stinging him and he might not have been comfortable. I watched him the last 70 yards and he didn’t have his usual kick.”
California Chrome was seen walking outside barn 26 at Belmont Park yesterday, sporting a white bandage on his wounded hoof, which was later changed to a special wrapping to reduce any risk of infection before heading back to the west coast. The colt will now be given a long rest and time to heal. Although no definite plans have yet been announced regarding his return to the track, Sherman did state that he hopes to enter him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita November 1st.