California Chrome co-owner lashes out again after Belmont loss
JUN 08, 2014 12:09p ET
Steve Coburn went from unhappy on Saturday to unrepentant on Sunday.
Coburn, the folksy co-owner of California Chrome, stood by his angry remarks over the format of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown and went further on the morning talk show circuit Sunday in the aftermath of his horse's tied-for-fourth finish in the Belmont Stakes, which was won by Tonalist. California Chrome finished 1 3/4 lengths behind.
Tonalist bypassed the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the May 3 Kentucky Derby and the May 17 Preakness.
"You might compare this to a triathlon," Coburn said on Good Morning America. "You know you've got to swim and you've got to bicycle and you've got to run. You don't make it to run if you're not going to do the other two."
Coburn then offered up another analogy:
"They hold out two (races) and then come back and run one," said Coburn. "That would be like me at 6-2 ... playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair. They haven't done anything with their horses in the Triple Crown ... You figure out. You ask yourself, 'Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair?"
California Chrome was one of three horses running a third Triple Crown race in five weeks. Ride On Curlin finished last and General a Rod was seventh in the 11-horse Belmont field. Tonalist's previous race was May 10 at Belmont, and he had not raced previously since February.
"It says Triple Crown," Coburn said. "You nominate your horse for the Triple Crown. That means three. Even the Triple Crown trophy has three points on it."
Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, beat Alydar by narrow margins in all three races in 1978.
Earlier on Sunday, Art Sherman, the 77-year-old trainer for California Chrome, had told reporters that he expected Coburn to apologize for remarks he made Saturday that skipping the Preakness to prepare for the Belmont "is the coward's way out."
Instead, the owner dished out more criticism.
"It's the truth, and I stand by what I said," Coburn said.
Sherman thinks one alternative to the current Triple Crown format would be to spread the races out over a longer span.
"Your horse needs time to recoup," he told USA Today.
California Chrome was bleeding from above the right front hoof after the Belmont, the result of being stepped on after leaving the gate.
"The horse won six straight races with perfect trips,," Sherman told Newsday, "and racing luck means a lot. I honestly think if he hadn't hurt himself and been bounced around on the backstretch, he would have been tough."
Next up will be some time for the horse to recover and rest.
"It should be healed in about three weeks, and then I'll give him some needed time off," the trainer said. "The Triple Crown is a rough trail."
Sherman said he expected to ship California Chrome to California for the summer and fall to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.