- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - It was a great start to the day for Barn 26, the Belmont home for California Chrome. Unfortunately, the Triple Crown hopeful fell short.

Wabbajack, who was a few stalls down from California Chrome, won the opening race at Belmont on Saturday.

“It’s all going to rub off on Chrome,” said Matt Amodeo, a partner in Wabbajack. “Chrome’s going to continue the good karma,” he said.

California Chrome finished in a dead heat for fourth, leaving Wabbajack as the barn’s winner.

The barn pairing actually started last summer when Ride on Curlin trainer Billy Gowan befriended Wabbajack trainer J.J. Toner while both were at Saratoga.

Amodeo, who is part of the Ninety North partnership, said that after Chrome’s victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Alan Sherman asked Gowan where he was going to stay while he was in New York. Gowan didn’t hesitate in telling him he was headed to Toner’s barn and Sherman decided to have Chrome join them.

Amodeo also said that he was happy his horse ran in the first race which went off at 11:35 a.m. as he was given the option to run in either of the two races after the Belmont Stakes.

“Horses are so much creatures of habit,” Amodeo said. “They train in the morning and we’re happy that he got to run early.”

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RACING GREATS: The last three Triple Crown winning jockeys were signing autographs and interacting with fans at the track.

Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed in 1978, Jean Cruguet, who rode Seattle Slew in 1977, and Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat in 1973, were only supposed to sign for two hours, but stayed hours later to give autographs to a steady stream of fans.

Cauthen was only 18 when he rode Affirmed to the last Triple Crown. Now with his hair graying, he happily was posing for photos with fans.

They were later joined by Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, who was smiling and engaging the fans.

After the race Chenery said she was “very disappointed that we didn’t have a Triple Crown winner, but I’m happy for the winners.”

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