06/08/2014 12:47PM

Coburn remains bitter about California Chrome's defeat

Shigeki Kikkawa
Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, went on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Sunday and repeated comments that he felt it was unfair that a fresh horse like Tonalist was able to compete in the Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After coming off publicly as a fortunate, grateful man through the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Steve Coburn, a co-owner of California Chrome, came off as petty and ungrateful immediately following the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, calling the connections of the victorious Tonalist “cowards” for bypassing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

 Given a night to sleep it off, Coburn doubled down on the invective on Sunday morning in a televised rant that tastelessly invoked children in wheelchairs.

 While being interviewed for more than five minutes by the ABC program “Good Morning America” on Sunday at Belmont Park, Coburn said he believed skipping the first two legs of the Triple Crown and then running in the final leg is not fair.

 His analogy was, “It wouldn’t be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair.”

 Coburn’s remarks are based on his belief that only horses who run in the Kentucky Derby should be able to compete in the subsequent Preakness and Belmont. California Chrome won the Derby and Preakness this year and would have become the 12th Triple Crown winner if he could have added the Belmont.

 Coburn after the Derby had said he didn’t believe horses should be able to sit out the Derby and then jump in at later stages of the Triple Crown. But not until California Chrome lost on Saturday, finishing in a dead heat for fourth, did he unload in full-throated rage.

 On NBC’s telecast of the Belmont, Coburn immediately after the race said, “It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day One.”

 “It’s all or nothing because this is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people and for the people who believe in them,” he said. “This is the coward’s way out, in my opinion.”

 Sunday, Coburn told “Good Morning America” that he “may have gone off half-cocked yesterday, but I don’t care.”

 He added that he didn’t care if people called him a sore loser, then gave out his telephone number -- “775-901-3922” -- and said anyone could call him for a debate.

 Perry Martin, the other owner of California Chrome, has never said anything of the sort regarding the Triple Crown race eligibility, nor have jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Art Sherman.

 In the belief that Coburn planned to apologize on Sunday, Sherman early Sunday morning tried to temper the growing outcry against Coburn. The Sunday morning edition of the New York Post had Coburn pictured on the cover, under the headline, “Triple Clown.”

 Sherman said that in the “heat of the moment” that Coburn “might have gotten a little vocal, might not think about what he’s saying.”

 “He’ll make a good apology, I would think,” Sherman said.

 Less than an hour later, Coburn went on “Good Morning America.”

 Christophe Clement, the trainer of Tonalist, and Robert “Shel” Evans, Tonalist’s owner, both declined to comment on Coburn’s statement.


Walter More than 1 year ago
This has been great for racing. His comments have extended the attention of the Belmont through Tuesday. It was covered on ESPN, ABC, & many other outlets days after the race. Horse racing doesn't get that kind of attention took often.
fernando alvarez More than 1 year ago
He already showed he's a sore loser !
Shibbley More than 1 year ago
Mr. Coburn, take advantage of the spot light and do this sport a solid. Announce to the national media every chance you get that you will be going where Tonalist goes. Tell them you believe your horse was beat by an inferior race horse due to circumstances and that you are out to prove who the better race horse is. Make news with it! Be Bold! We have a shot to make racing count for more than 5 weeks nationally. Help your sport and build a rivalry. East coast vs west coast, is a natural and you have an opportunity to promote the game. These opportunities are rare and need to be taken advantage of in this sport. One thing the owner of Tonalist was completely right about is that this sport refuses to sell itself and promote itself. Here is an opportunity, even if forced, it will be effective. Give promotion a chance and talk about how your horse is better than theirs and you are out to prove it. That gets things going for the people and the momentum it could build could be huge. Build it and they will come!
Timurlenk Timurlenk More than 1 year ago
Stop crying. Just A Way, a japanese horse, has run races for more than 5,000 meters in 35 days and winning all. Stop medicating horses improperly!!!!!
Deb Olivas More than 1 year ago
Mr Colburn went on national TV this morning an made an apology, he is new to this and I am sure the 5 weeks of constant attention got to him as much as the 3 races may have got to CC. He may have spoke out of turn , but the constant bashing you are doing shows no class either.
lostlakefarm More than 1 year ago
If he had stated his opinions BEFORE the running of the Belmont, his comments would mean something. I'm disappointed in his poor sportsmanship, looking like a cry baby when his horse got beat. He shouldn't have GALLOPED that horse the day before. Who does that? CC simply didn't have a full tank of gas and it was obvious in his down demeanor in the paddock.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
James More than 1 year ago
Coburn didn't gallop Swaps. Art Sherman the trainer was Swaps exercise rider.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
I feel sorry for his wife as she tried in vein to defuse the situation.
Mark Thomas More than 1 year ago
They may be cowards, but their $900,000 richer. And they got the trophy he thought had his name on it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! And tonalist will be retired after this yr.
Alan Shevelove More than 1 year ago
I wonder if he knows top stables used "rabbits" in most big handicap races to insure a fast pace to help their horses. I guess you don't learn Class sitting at the bar at Los Alamitos.