Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bid Denied

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. 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*


  1. To me CC had enough story and turn of foot to excite the possibilities and get folk to begin to believe the possibilities . He didn't win and he didn't shame himself . It is what it using think the trainer showed far more class and showmanship in his statement than the owners did

  2. I guess I am in the opposite camp on my opinion of CC's owner's reaction. I can totally relate to how he reacted and his (what I thought was a heartfelt) apology pretty much spelled out exactly what I already thought.I think more than anything he wanted CC to win for the people. Of course he wanted that win for his horse, but up until this point everyone rallied around CC's owners because they were just 'regular' people. They weren't the elite from the horse racing world. They weren't used to being in the spotlight and unfortunately, his emotions came out all wrong.

    In all reality, I find the fact that people turned on him so quickly afterwards to be a sign of how fickle people really are. Everybody loved him when CC won. He could have said ANYTHING and people would have chalked it up to the fact that he was just a regular guy and simply lacked the sophistication of the people who have owned/trained/raced numerous horses over the years.....But let the horse lose a race and all of the sudden his unsophisticated emotions make him a 'sore loser'?...Humph...I would have been as devastated as he was, not just for my horse or myself, but for the people who proclaimed to love this horse and cheered for him.

    Probably a painful lesson for this man on the fickleness of 'supporters'. He'll never care about the general public's opinion the same way again.

  3. Heat of the moment and gut wrenching disappointment I suspect . Tough that the media capitalizes in that too I didn't see the apology but I am glad he got the opportunity to say it

  4. I do agree he was speaking in the heat of the moment, but I agree with you Lisa, he knew what the stakes were, essentially its just 3 races, all individual races and its just extra special to win all 3 it shouldn't happen very often or it wouldn't be a special trophy. Ya I am disappointed he didn't win too, but sat to be they focus so much on his bad moment when he was so people friendly before though.

  5. It wasn't so much his in the moment reaction that made me think he was a poor sport. As I said in the post:
    "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). "
    It was the stories I was reading afterward that he was still spouting off that only horses that race in all three races should be allowed and how his horse was a target.
    Like I said, it sucks but it's part of racing. Even if they only let horses run in all three races, if you win the first two you'll be targeted.
    It happens in non-Triple Crown races as well.

    I will add that I think making a public apology was a classy thing to do. He's still passionate, and I agree with BEC he's probably feeling a bit burned by the public.


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