A photograph shows rival horse Matterhorn injuring California Chrome as they left the starting gate in last week's Belmont Stakes, according to the Longshot Blues today. Chrome had a bloody hoof the entire race which means he probably ran in a great deal of pain.
So while owner Steve Coburn has been blaming the system for his horse's defeat this week, the explanation may be entirely different. An injury to his hoof which caused him to bleed may be the reason the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion didn't show his normal burst of energy in the homestretch.
The sad thing about racehorses is they can't tell their jockeys they're hurt. Whether it's a sore throat or some other ailment a horse is at the mercy of the people around him or sometimes just a bad break. That's the reason betting on racehorses is considered one of the riskiest enterprises in sports.
But even sadder than that is the fact California Chrome may have suffered incredible pain as he courageously ran the distance of the mile-and-a-half Belmont track. So while originally people may have thought the horse was tired, it now appears he is an incredibly courageous animal who competed with enormous pain.
While he didn't cross the finish line first in New York, it may be something of a miracle he even reached the finish line. Fortunately, this doesn't appear to be a life-threatening situation like the one in which the fabulous Barbaro found himself.
Chrome's injury was not discovered until the horse was walking back to the barn after the race. One can only imagine the pain Chrome felt every step he made arouond that agonizingly long race. A photograph taken by Debra Roma for the Daily Racing Form clearly shows Mattherhorn charging into Chrome as both horses left the starting gate.
One can imagine the skin from one's heel being ripped to the bone to imagine the pain the champion Chrome endured as he made his gallant bid for history. Maybe he was good enough to win the Triple Crown.
While Coburn was ranting on NBC about requiring all the horses to enter all three Triple Crown races to make things fair, the irony is that his brave horse may have been good enough to win the race if he hadn't been injured.
Secretariat won his Triple Crown against horses who didn't enter all three races.
One thing we know for sure, California Chrome has the heart of a champion. And if this injury doesn't prove too serious, he could go on to compile a truly great career record.
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