Neither Tonalist, Commissioner nor Medal Count—the three horses which finished ahead of California Chrome in the 2014 Belmont Stakes—ran in the Preakness Stakes.
And California Chrome owner Steve Coburn isn't happy about it, as the New York Daily News reported.
"If you've got a horse, run him in all three...This is the coward's way out." -California Chrome owner Steve Coburn— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 7, 2014
Coburn, caught up in the emotion of losing a race which could've completed the first Triple Crown since 1978, could've used a better word than "coward" to describe his fellow thoroughbred owners. They simply used a strategy, resting their horse while others tire themselves out, that has been apart of racing for years. There's nothing cowardly about a competitor doing whatever it takes to win while staying within the rules.
However, Coburn is correct that these rules allowing horses extra rest before the Belmont are unfair, and they must be put under the microscope. Since 1978, 13 horses have now won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, only to lose the Belmont. And many of those losses were at the hooves of an extra-rested horse, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Tonalist wins Belmont, 15th to win the Belmont without running in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes since last Triple Crown won— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2014
Should horses be allowed to enter the Belmont without entering the Derby and Preakness?
California Chrome was supposed to end the drought.
He entered the Kentucky Derby as a 5-2 favorite. He won by 1 3/4 lengths.
Weeks later, he entered the Preakness States as a 3-5 favorite. He won by 1 1/2 lengths.
On Saturday, California Chrome entered the Belmont Stakes a 3-5 favorite. And he lost by 1 3/4 lengths to a horse that had a much less physically demanding year than him.
Coburn said there would never be another Triple Crown champion if owners are allowed to continue to employ this strategy. And he may be right.
California Chrome may have not ended the Triple Crown drought himself, but hopefully his loss allows another horse to do so in years to come under new rules created in response to it.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.