The horse dubbed “America’s Horse,” California Chrome, had a rough day out at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Poised to take a Triple Crown win, he had the entire crowd on his side along with the entire horse-racing community and every casual fan everywhere — really, most of the country if you think about it, since Chrome Fever had swept the nation. It was not to be, though, as Tonalist, under Joel Rosario, took a spoiler win and postponed the possibility of a Triple Crown one more year.
California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn is widely known as being an outsider who knew nothing of horse racing when he and his partner Perry Martin bought the horse for next to nothing. As they got swept into the limelight, it was their outsider status that made California Chrome such an engaging story. After the Belmont, it was the same status that made Coburn look like a complete tool.
After the loss, Coburn was asked the standard question about whether he was disappointed and to what degree. Instead of being magnanimous in defeat, Coburn launched into a completely ill-advised and grossly uninformed rant, accusing the entire Triple Crown of being “not fair” and calling Tonalist and other horses “cowards.”
Coburn was angry at the fact that horses who did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby were allowed to race in the Belmont. He yelled that the same horses who run the Derby should be the only ones running in the rest of the races. He went on to imply that other organizations entered their horses because of “a target on [California Chrome’s] back” and to merely play spoilers.
This might seem logical to an outsider knowing nothing of the sport — like Coburn. In reality, Coburn is an idiot who has no clue what he’s talking about.
The problem with this rant is that it proves Coburn has absolutely no idea what the Triple Crown is or how it works. For his idiotic rant to make sense, there would have to be a league or governing body who handles the entire situation. This is not entirely so. While there is some oversight of prep races and points accumulating by the Thoroughbred Racing Association, for the most part, each Triple Crown race is its own individual race and can allow whatever horses they darn well please to compete.
If the New York Racing Association, which holds the Belmont Stakes, would like to allow horses A, B or C into their race, they are well within their right to do so. If they feel as though those horses will attract more bettors, then that’s their prerogative. This is the same as the Maryland Jockey Club, who holds the Preakness Stakes — who Coburn seems to have no problem with.
Horses who skip the Preakness or Derby are not doing so to play spoiler. They do so because they want to win their race, win the insane prize money that comes with it and have a Stakes win under their belt, making that horse more valuable for Stud. There is nobody out there twisting their mustache trying to enter a horse into a race simply to be a jerk and make Coburn’s life miserable.
Commanding Curve, for example, took the Preakness off. Was this to mess with California Chrome? No, it was because he did not win the Derby and trainer Dallas Stewart did not want to risk injury before his horse could run the Belmont, a race he was more suited for and had a better chance of winning.
For Coburn to rant so hard that his wife behind him kept urging him to “hush” and then later to “shut the [heck] up” is embarrassing for him, his team and for the supporters of this horse. Nobody cares about making him miserable, and to call other trainers and owners “cheaters” and “cowards” is to behave like sniveling five-year-old who just lost in ping-pong. Not to mention, he’s an idiot for ranting like that while simultaneously not having a single clue of what the heck he’s talking about.
His logic might be sound in a vacuum, but when applied to the actual concept of three individual races held independently of one another — it proves why Coburn and Martin call themselves “Dumb A– Partners.”
Because that’s what Coburn proved himself to be.