Watch California Chrome Co-Owner's Angry Rant on TV After Losing Triple Crown (Video)
In an interview after his horse lost his bid for the Triple Crown, Steve Coburn said horses that don't run the Kentucky Derby shouldn't be allowed to run the Belmont Stakes, and singled out the winner as a coward.
California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn did not take his horse's loss in the Belmont Stakes well. At all.
In an interview on NBC just after the end of the race, Coburn ranted bitterly about Chrome's loss, complaining that his horse had to run the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (which he won) in the last five weeks, while the winner, Tonalist, hadn't run either.
"Our horse had a target on his back," said Coburn. "If you've got a horse, run him in all three [Triple Crown] races." His wife, Carolyn, standing behind him, tried to restrain his comments, but he continued. Even after the interviewer's microphone was cut, Coburn went on.
Referring and pointing to Tonalist, which hadn't run either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, Coburn said, "This is a coward's way out."
"This is not fair to these horses," said Coburn.
Since the Derby on May 3, California Chrome had been catapulted from an underdog with humble beginnings and "unimpressive breeding" to an equine celebrity with fans dubbed as "Chromies" and an endorsement deal with Skechers shoe company.
He went into the 146th Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York -- which is known as "the Test of a Champion" -- as the 3-5 favorite.
Chrome's humble backstory -- his owners spent $8,000 on a mare they bred to a stallion for $2,500 -- has transformed him into the Cinderella story of the racing world.
It was jockey Victor Espinoza's second chance at taking the Triple Crown, after the 42-year-old failed to win the Belmont on War Emblem in 2002 to complete the trifecta.
NBC's "in the saddle reporter" Donna Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter in the run up to the Belmont that she believed Chrome had a shot.
"California Chrome has the pedigree. His immediate sire [father] and dam [mother] are not impressive, but when you go back to his grandsires, he has an impressive pedigree that indicates he can compete at this level and this distance," she explained. "Also, given the way that he has won the first two legs, you can see him doing it again."
NBC and NBCSN doubled the coverage of the Belmont to 16 hours in the lead-up to the main event, including a documentary on the famous horse titled, California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion.