Tonalist gets past Commissioner in the shadow of the wire to win the “Test of a Champion.” California Chrome was valiant, but clearly defeated. Let’s revisit the 3 key questions from the Cheat Sheet:
1. Does California Chrome run his race?
Pre-race comment: If he does, only Tonalist or an unexpected improvement will get it done. The above-risk factors matter, along with the importance of a good start. It’s a long race, but a bad start did in Victor Espinoza and War Emblem.
Post-race comment: He ran well, but was not in his top form today. Whether it’s due to Matterhorn stepping on his hoof or just being tired from the Triple Crown effort, he didn’t put out an absolute top effort.
2. Can Tonalist duplicate his Peter Pan effort?
Pre-race: There’s the ever-present mud question coming out of the Peter Pan. But this is a very impressive son of Tapit out of a Pleasant Colony mare. I wouldn’t expect to see him on the lead, especially starting from the way outside. A repeat of that effort puts him right there with California Chrome. Wouldn’t be shocked to see him catch Chrome in the final strides.
Post-race: The mud wasn’t the reason for his earlier improvement, and he managed to put forth a great effort. As expected, he showed great versatility in style, the mark of a very talented horse.
3. Who improves?
Pre-race: Most likely, one of the remaining 9 horses will put a career-best effort together. It’s the result of growth, training, and an affinity for the distance. Commanding Curve is getting some buzz in all these regards.
Post-race: Commissioner moved forward again after his strong Peter Pan and seized the lead early. He almost got it done, and gives WinStar another Travers prospect along with Charge Now.