Updates from Monday, June 9
[I'm] very ashamed of myself. I need to apologize to a lot of people, including my wife Carolyn. First of all, I need to apologize to the winners, they ran a beautiful race...I did not mean to take anything away from them.
Video of the interview can be found below:
Just about anyone following California Chrome's bid for the Triple Crown heading into the 2014 Belmont Stakes was disappointed to see Tonalist claim the final leg of the three-part series.
But owner Steve Coburn wasn't as disappointed in his horse's performance as the system that allows fresh horses to run each leg of the Triple Crown, per the New York Daily News:
"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
"If you can't make enough points to get in the [Derby], you can't run in the [Preakness and Belmont]." -California Chrome owner Steve Coburn— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 7, 2014
Coburn's harsh words stem from the fact that Tonalist is part of a troubling trend for those who would like to see a Triple Crown winner, as noted by 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
With Tonalist coming into the race presumably fresher than nearly any other horse, the colt outran the field of 11 contenders. California Chrome, running his third race in five weeks, faded down the stretch and fell out of the top three.
Fresh off the thrill of winning the historic race, owner Robert Evans took the high road when asked about the comments by Bob Costas, per the New York Daily News:
"I don't think I have a comment on that." -Tonalist owner Robert Evans to Bob Costas on Steve Coburn's "coward's way out" quotation.— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 7, 2014
Shortly after the race, Coburn decried Tonalist's entry into the race after riding in neither of the first two legs of the series.
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated noted interviewer Kenny Rice's handling of the situation on the NBC telecast:
Great work by Kenny Rice with Steve Coburn. Dude wants to go off. Keep mic in his face. Ask same Q in a different way. Ballgame.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) June 7, 2014
Coburn became an overnight celebrity as the outspoken owner of the latest horse to capture the first two legs of the Triple Crown. However, this rant was a bit different than the jovial outbursts fans saw when he was singing the praises of the incredible Derby and Preakness winner.
Affirmed in 1978 remains the last winner of the ever-elusive Triple Crown. With yet another high-profile horse missing out, Coburn's outburst might just be the push horse racing needs to re-examine the way in which the field is chosen for the sport's three biggest races.
However, Coburn could be fighting an uphill battle. With the purse for the Belmont Stakes sitting at a cool $1.5 million according to TheTripleCrown.com, there's already plenty of money to be made for the powers that be to think about changing a platform that is so lucrative.