I'm sure all y'all know by now... California Chrome didn't manage to make history and become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown. I'm not going to comment here on whether or not I think his injury out of the gate is what cost him the race*. Instead I want to touch on sportsmanship and tradition.
Steve Coburn, Chrome's co-owner was quite... expressive... in his post race interview. Matter of fact he came across as throwing a tantrum. I passed it off as a passionate owner expressing his feelings in the heat of the moment (I'm sure I'd be less than gracious in the same situation). However if the follow up stuff I'm seeing online is true he's just a real poor sport.
Going into a bid for the Triple Crown you KNOW the deal. You know there are horses that raced in the Derby and not the Preakness, or possibly neither the Derby nor the Preakness. However that doesn't mean the whole field has rested... shocking but there are other races on the TB calendar ;) One thing is certain though, you know your horse will be facing fresher horses. Ranting and raving that it's a coward's way out is not very classy. Also, for the guy that's been doing all the PR, not too smart. Also let's not forget his horse isn't the only one that ran all three races (hello Ride On Curlin and General A Rod)
Those that are saying only horses that have raced in all three should be able to compete is, IMO, ridiculous. Trainers & owners choose which races to enter depending on their horse's talent and health.
It also reflects the "everyone is a 'winner'" way that children are being raised now. Guess what, not everyone wins and when you grow up and step out into the big ole world without ever having to lose or take a hard knock, or stretch yourself to find out what it takes to better yourself instead of everyone getting a participation ribbon, it's a huge adjustment.
Claiming that your horse has a target on it because it's going for the Crown is also pretty stupid, although yes it probably does. However time and time again other horses have had "targets" on their back because of how dang good they are. Google Phar Lap and see how even the stewards tried to take him out. Talk to people that have worked in the industry and listen to stories about boxing horses in on the rail. How many horses have been taken out of the winner's circle due to interference?
Bottom line, target or not, it's racing. You only get paid if you win and it's not cheap to own, train and care for those horses so guess what, you're going to try to win (although I have no illusion that some horses are entered as sacrificial lambs to make things easier for stable mates).
IMO the only way to make it *fair* for everyone would be to have the horses run in lanes like human runners do. No changing lanes, no bumping/interfering, a staggered start so everyone goes the same distance. (somehow I'm sure even that would have people crying "unfair")
The Triple Crown isn't officially a series of races as in a closed series or set, which is why horses can enter any of the races and don't have to compete in all three. Guess what, it wasn't even called the Triple Crown until approximately 1930 (guess what, the first horse to win the Derby, Preakness and Belmont was Sir Barton in 1919. Yep, before it was even known as the Triple Crown).
Tradition and history have made the Triple Crown what it is. Every.other.horse that has won the first two races has faced the same thing Chrome faced. It's part of what makes winning the Crown such an accomplishment and why the Belmont is known as the test of champions... to be able to win all three races, in such a short span, finishing with the longest most grueling run, against horses that may be fresher.
Again just my opinion here, if "the rules" were to change and the only horses running are ones that have entered all three... well heck any of those that win that new Triple Crown wouldn't be able to be compared to Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed!
* For the record, while I would have LOVED for there to be a new Triple Crown winner I had serious doubts that it would happen. Chrome didn't seem to finish the Preakness very strong and it looked like Ride On Curlin would have caught him if there had been any more distance*
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