California Chrome fell short in his bid for racing’s Triple Crown, and the horse’s co-owner blames other owners for taking “the coward’s way” rather than face the colt head on.
The chestnut colt won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes by a wide margin, but ran out of steam in the Belmont Stakes and ended up finishing fourth. The winner, Tonalist, skipped out on the first two races of the series.
The decision did not sit well with Steve Coburn, California Chrome’s co-owner, who said it was unfair for other owners to sit out of the grueling races and deny a fair shot at the Triple Crown.
“This is his third great big race,” an emotional Coburn said after the race concluded. “These other horses, they sat them out and tried to upset the apple cart.
“It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. I look at it this way, if you can’t make enough points to get in the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run the other two races.”
Second place horse Commissioner also sat out the first two Triple Crown races, while third-place Medal Count skipped the Preakness.
California Chrome was trying to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win all three races of the Triple Crown. Coburn said that his colt and other horses who competed in the first two races before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes were unfairly targeted.
“It’s all or nothing. This is not fair to these horses who’ve been trying their guts out,” said Coburn.
“This is a coward’s way out. Our horse had a target on its back.”
Coburn proposed a system where only horses that earn points in the Kentucky Derby would be eligible for the other races. It would still be too late for California Chrome, however.