The feel good story of the rags to riches horse, California Chrome, did not have a fairy tale ending on Saturday.
The final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, was won by Tonalist, while California Chrome finished in a dead heat for fourth with Wicked Strong.
The story quickly shifted away from California Chrome’s lost chance at becoming part of horse racing royalty, by winning the Triple Crown, and it shifted Steve Coburn.
He is the most vocal member of the Dumb Ass Partners team and the most visible. The funny and endearing Coburn went from the guy America loved to just another sore loser.
Coburn was angry and he blasted the race winner Tonalist. “This is the coward’s way out,” Coburn told a packed press group at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Coburn did not stop there, he went even further saying:
“I’m 61 years old and in my lifetime, I’ll never see another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day 1. If you don’t make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run in the other two races. 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 that believe in them. “This is the coward’s way out in my opinion. Our horse had a target on his back and everybody lays out one and they won’t run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness: They’ll wait until the Belmont. If you’ve got a horse, run him in all three. Those 20 horses that start in Kentucky are the only 20 eligible to run in all three races. This is the coward’s way out.”
The Triple Crown series has been run this way for 139 years and while Coburn might have a point that it isn’t fair he knew the rules. The actions of his rants Saturday can take away some of the good will that race fans had for him and his wonderful horse California Chrome.
This remains a very compelling story which most know by now. It stars Coburn and Perry Martin, who are the self-proclaimed Dumbass Partners who purchased a most improbable dream for $8,000 in the form of a mare named Love the Chase. The cast of this made for TV movie included a included 77-year-old journeyman trainer Art Sherman, a jockey Victor Espinoza, whose Triple Crown bid was spoiled 12 years ago by a stumbling War Emblem and, of course, the star of the show California Chrome, the beautiful colt hungry to be the first California-bred horse to win a Triple Crown.
In the end no one got what we wanted and that was to see a Triple Crown winner. What we got instead was a sore loser. There are plenty more chances that Colburn has to set things right and return to the guy fans want to see do well and to cheer for. But right now it does look like Dumb Ass Partners are living up to their name.