Jun 7, 2014; Elmont, NY, USA; Joel Rosario aboard Tonalist (11) reacts after winning the 2014 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

California Chrome spurs Belmont Stakes to second-highest rating ever

California Chrome’s ultimately unsuccessful run for the Triple Crown helped this year’s Belmont Stakes snag a massive TV rating. According to NBC, Saturday’s Belmont averaged 20.6 million viewers, the second-highest rating on record for the event.

Viewers turned out in huge numbers to see if California Chrome, the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, could become the first animal since Affirmed in 1978 to capture the mythical horse racing Triple Crown.

The dream died for California Chrome when Tonalist captured the race, much to the chagrin of California Chrome’s owner Steve Coburn, who let his irritation be known rather loudly and memorably in front of that near-record-breaking TV audience.

So does this huge rating mean horse racing is back from the dead as a major American sport? Well…no.

What it means is that a lot of people got caught up in the drama of one horse’s Triple Crown quest. If another horse makes a run for the Crown next year, the Belmont will have huge ratings. If there’s no potential Triple Crown on the line? It will be like a golf tournament without Tiger Woods. No one will care.

Horse racing is a fringe sport in America and will remain so forever. It’s a 19th Century rich person thing that only rich people really care about anymore. And gamblers of course. Can’t forget about the gamblers.

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Tags: California Chrome

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