US superstar California Chrome missed out on landing America's Triple Crown at Belmont in New York on Sunday morning. He finished just behind the placegetters in a dead-heat 4th after making a searching run wide out from the 800m and then wqeakening in the final stages.

All eyes were on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero in his bid to become the first horse since Affirmed to achieve the feat back in 1978 but the Lucky Pulpit colt appeared to be feeling the effects of his early season heroics.

Settled just off the pace by Victor Espinoza, who had suffered heartbreak in this race aboard War Emblem in 2002, he was perfectly placed as Commissioner took the field along in the 12 furlong Grade One.

Espinoza pulled California Chrome four wide on the turn into the straight but, try as he might, he could never reel in the leaders as he ran on gamely to the line.

It appeared as though Commissioner had stolen the race from the front but Todd Pletcher's colt was denied in the last strides by the Joel Rosario-ridden Tonalist who was awarded the result after a photo finish with Medal Count third, and Wicked Strong sharing fourth with the favourite.

In an industry where speed is increasingly of the essence, the mile and a half around Belmont Park, New York, really takes some getting and has become a graveyard for Classic stars.

Twelve horses have now tried to complete the famous treble since Affirmed, including such luminaries as Spectacular Bid (1979), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989) and Silver Charm (1997).

In 1998, Real Quiet failed by just a nose, while the last to bid for glory before California Chrome had been Big Brown, who was injured in the 2008 Belmont. I'll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness in 2012 but suffered a career-ending tendon injury on the eve of the Belmont.

The race is the oldest of the three American jewels, pre-dating the Preakness by six years and the Kentucky Derby by eight, having been established at Jerome Park in 1866.