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Jun 13, 2014

California Chrome first in final 3-year-old poll


New York, NY ( - He may have lost the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, but California Chrome is still considered the best 3-year-old in thoroughbred racing.

Although California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Belmont Stakes, he received 40 of 43 first-place votes in the final NTRA Poll for 3-year-olds. The colt's final point total of 427 gave him a 67-point advantage over Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist.

"Chrome is going to have a needed rest. It's been a tough campaign for him," trainer Art Sherman said.

Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement for Robert S, Evans, jumped from eighth to second with one top vote and 360 points.

"He didn't surprise me, because I knew he was a good horse going into the race," Clement said. "They didn't give him the race. He had to fight pretty hard in order to do it. He just confirmed that he belongs with some of the best 3-year-olds in the country at the moment."

Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable is third with two first-place votes and 340 points. Wicked Strong, who tied California Chrome for fourth in the Belmont, is fourth in the voting with 226 points, followed by Danza (171), Belmont runner-up Commissioner (167), Ride On Curlin (125), Bayern (118), Belmont third-place horse Medal Count (100) and Shared Belief (54), the 2013 champion 2-year-old.

The National Poll has major shake ups after Saturday's stakes filled program at Belmont Park.

Moving into first off his victory in the Met Mile is Palace Malice, replacing two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Palace Malice, trained by Todd Pletcher, picked up 33 first-place votes and 419 points.

"I thought it was another remarkable effort from him," Pletcher said. "To win the Met Mile carrying 124 pounds and breaking from the rail in a large field, I don't know what else you can do. A year ago he won the Belmont (Stakes) at a mile and a half; it speaks volumes about his quality and versatility. He's just in terrific form this year."

Wise Dan, currently recovering from surgery, garnered eight top votes and 365 points. No date on when the 7-year-old gelding will return to racing.

Game On Dude, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, is up a rung to third with two first-place votes and 282 points. The 7-year-old gelding, trained by Bob Baffert, is likely to start in next month's Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Close Hatches stamped herself as the top older female with Saturday's win in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park over Princess of Sylmar and two-time champion Beholder. The 4-year-old filly climbed from ninth to fourth with 249 points and could start next in the Delaware Handicap in July.

"We've been pointing to the race since early spring," trainer Bill Mott said after winning the Ogden Phipps, "and it's just one of those cases where things worked out, where you make a plan and it comes to fruition."

Dropping from third to fifth is California Chrome with 241 points, followed by Lea (184), Untapable (136), Will Take Charge (116), Princess of Sylmar (95) and Mucho Macho Man (91).

The National Poll continues through the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 1.

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