California Chrome owner Steve Coburn lashed out at the racing system after his horse finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes yesterday, Saturday and failed to win the Triple Crown, according to Sports Illustrated. Chrome previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and was favored to become the first horse to win the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, according to the New York Daily News.
The signs of a victory were all there as Affirmed's jockey Steve Cauthen was even present and said he thought Chrome's chances were good. Even Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery was shown in a clip before the race. Secretariat won by 31 lengths in 1973.
However, a disappointed Coburn watched as his racehorse tied for fourth in front of a capacity New York crowd after Frank Sinatra Jr. sang his dad's "New York, New York."
"This is not fair to these horses that have been in this thing running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them, to have somebody come out like this....this is the cowards way out, in my opinion, this is this coward's way out," Coburn said according to Sports Illustrated.
Tonalist edged out Commissioner for the Belmont win while Chrome tied with Wicked Strong for fourth in front of a disappointed crowd.
Was Coburn right?
He was referring to the fact Tonalist and Commissioner were allowed to rest during the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness while Chrome was expending lots of energy winning those two races. He said the system would be more fair if horses were required to run in all three races.
"I look at it this way. If you've got a horse that earns enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby, then only those twenty horses should be allowed to enter the Preakness and the Belmont," he argued.
Tonalist did not earn enough points to qualify for the Derby. Tonalist won the Belmont in a pedestrian time of 2:28.52.
Secretariat still holds the Belmont record of 2:26 which he set when he won the Triple Crown in 1973 with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard.
There appears to be divided opinion regarding Coburn's rant following yesterday's race. A large volume of tweets seemed to support his position. However, respected owner Patricia Wolfson said the system should not be changed. She said horses aren't raced as frequently as they used to be. She said if they were raced as frequently as they were in the past then three races over a five week period would not be an issue.
Before the race Chrome's jockey Victor Espinosa said the California horse would be the greatest horse in history if he won the Belmont.
Secretariat's position as the greatest racehorse ever is still secure for another year at least.
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