To quote an old sports adage, there is no joy in Mudville.
Not on Saturday among the many hometown California Chrome supporters who cheered for their horse during the 146th Belmont Stakes at various locations, including the Carson Valley Inn and Sharkey’s Casino in Gardnerville.
Fans, many of whom are acquainted with California Chrome’s co-owners, Topaz Lake residents Steve and Carolyn Coburn, cheered the horse in his quest to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. The cheers died down, however, when the 3-year-old colt was unable to rally down the home stretch and finished in a dead heat for fourth-place. Tonalist edged Commissioner at the wire to win the race.
Gardnerville resident Bill Ryan watched at the Carson Valley Inn, wearing a white and green T-shirt that stated on the back, “I’m a Chromie.”
“I’m totally bummed out,” Ryan said afterward. “That was disappointing. He looked tired, but a mile-and-a-half is a long race.”
At Sharkey’s a man who identified himself only as Ralph from Santa Cruz, Calif., had a front row view of the big screen next to the William Hill Race & Sports Book.
“I felt very melancholy,” he said, holding up three losing tickets, including two exacta tickets and one trifecta. “I had California Chrome, Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong on my trifecta, so that was disappointing.”
This was only the second time he had ever placed a bet on a horse race and that his interest in California Chrome had been generated 10 days before when the Coburns appeared at Sharkey’s for an autograph signing session.
California Chrome swung wide coming around the final turn — “There he goes. Go baby,” one spectator in the crowd at Sharkey’s called out — but he never seriously challenged for the lead.
“That’s why they call it the Triple Crown,” Gardnerville resident Bill Quaill said with a shrug. “Boy, the jockey gave him the whip (down the stretch), he just couldn’t get the horse to go any faster.”
Smith Valley resident Terrie Stewart wore the colors of her favorite horse — purple and green — as she watched the race with a group of friends at the Carson Valley Inn.
“California Chrome,” she said with a wide smile. “I bet on Junior, absolutely. There is no other horse. I’m ready for the race. Make sure you watch those ears.”