CHICO, Calif. - Northern Californians were wrapped with attention Saturday during the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, but felt the agony of defeat as Northstate hero California Chrome failed to capture horse racing's first Triple Crown since 1978.
California Chrome handily won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
In Chico, fans of the horse, whose owners are from Yuba City, gathered at The Horse Store and More on the Esplanade.
There was tension in the air in the lead-up to the race, and the air let out of the room when California Chrome failed to make history.
The Horse Store and More's Donna Mathis said his run to the top of the horse racing world still made a big impact on them.
"It brought every body together. We're all here having fun and cheering on our local horse," she said.
Some have projected that the rights to breed California Chrome will fetch tens-of-millions of dollars, so there's still hope for the future.
"Yeah. We're rooting for that too," Mathis said.
Perhaps the biggest Belmont Stakes viewing party was held in downtown Yuba City where an estimated 15,000 people were expected to watch the race on two huge projection screens.