To Steve Coburn's dismay, the 2014 Belmont Stakes won't be the last that horses enter more rested than others.
After his horse California Chrome—the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion—failed to complete the Triple Crown by losing the Belmont, Coburn ranted to NBC Sports about how rules must change to prohibit horses from running in the Belmont that didn't race in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes.
It's all or nothing. It's not fair to these horses that are running their guts out. This is a cowards' way out. If you've got a horse that earns points, that runs in the Kentucky Derby, those horses should be the only ones who should run in all three races.
California Chrome finished behind three horses which sat out the Preakness—Tonalist, Commissioner and Medal Count. Neither Tonalist, the Belmont champ, nor Commissioner ran in the Derby either.
Coburn's rant drew much reaction on social media. Some, like USA Today's Christine Brennan and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Dejan Kovacevic, agreed and others didn't. But the numbers in agreement were enough to make reconsidering the rules a possibility.
Steve Coburn saying Tonalist "took the coward's way out" by skipping Derby and Preakness. Sounds like sour grapes, but he is right.— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) June 7, 2014
Steve Coburn angrily calls winning Belmont with rested horse 'coward's way out' on NBC. Good for him. He's right. Not part of old network.— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) June 7, 2014
That possibility ended, though, when the ratings rolled in. NBC reported that 20.6 million people watched this year's Belmont. Those are the second-highest ratings for the race on record. According to Matt Hegarty of the Daily Racing Form, this is how much the ratings were up from recent years.
Belmont S. overnight rating up 36% over last TC bid, 2008, and up 180% over broadcast last year, when no TC on the line.— Matt Hegarty (@DRFHegarty) June 8, 2014
No horse has completed the Triple Crown since 1978. With each year that passes by without a Triple Crown champion, the feat becomes more prestigious. The more prestigious the feat becomes, the more people will watch and the more money horse racing will make.
As rational as Coburn's argument sounded to some, money trumps fairness. Horse racing is a business. And the longer the Triple Crown drought continues, the more this business will boom.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.