After California Chrome lost his chance of winning the Triple Crown bid at the Belmont Stakes, co-owner Steve Coburn lashed out in a post-race interview blaming the racing industry for his horse’s loss. Coburn is known for his unruly rants trashing the rules and regulations of the sport.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He Called Tonalist’s Team Cowardly
In Coburn’s post-race interview, the intemperate horse owner told media that California Chrome lost the Belmont due to the fact that Tonalist, the winner of the race had not participated in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Coburn implied that under these circumstances Tonalist was more rested than the others, especially because California Chrome had a wound in his right hoof from running in the Preakness and Kentucky Derby.
Coburn said on NBC:
It’s not fair to the horses that have been in the game since Day 1.”
California Chrome, General A Rod and Ride On Curlin were the only horses that raced in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year while Tonalist was the only horse that hadn’t raced in any of the legs before the Belmont.
Coburn told NBC what he thought of the Triple Crown process:
“It’s all or nothing…This is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people who believe in them.”
Coburn ended the interview saying:
This is a coward’s way out, in my opinion. If you’ve got a horse, run him in all three.”
2. They Bought California Chrome for $8,000
Steve and his wife Carolyn Coburn of Topaz Lake, Nevada co-own California Chrome with Perry and Denise Martin of Yuba City California. The two couples are the most unsuspecting horse owners in horse racing. The Coburns and Martins became involved with horses though by owning a small share through a syndicate called Love the Chase, eventually throwing together $8,000 to purchase California Chrome.
The Martins, small business owners and the Coburns, employed by a company that produces magnetic strips for credit cards and his wife a payroll employees for a health-care company never would have guessed that their horse would be the favorite to win the Triple Crown for the first time in 36 years.
3. He Said He Will Never Live to See a Triple Crown Winner
After California Chrome tied for 4th place at Belmont, Coburn bashed Tonalist and followed it up with a jab at the racing industry for letting horses who don’t plan on racing in all legs of the Triple Crown participate to be fair to horses who will be running in all three races in that short period of time.
He told NBC:
I’m 61 years old and I’ll never in my lifetime I’ll never see another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. I look at it this way: if you can’t make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can’t win in the other two races.”
4. He Lashed Out at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby
Coburn has a history of being speaking out negatively against the racing industry. At this year’s past Kentucky Derby, the angry horse owner had a few choice words about Churchhill Downs when they accidentally spelled California Chrome’s name wrong on his saddle blanket, accusing them of spelling it wrong on purpose since California Chrome was a less well known racing horse at the time. He also claimed the course for mistreating the mother of Perry Martin, another co-owner of California Chrome.
5. He Believes the Sport is Declining
Along with his accusations against various race tracks and ruling in the industry, Coburn has told media “the sport is declining” due to unfair rules that allow horses like Tonalist to win the last leg of the Triple Crown after not racing in the first two. His bitterness and sour attitude is now famous among the racing world and he will likely disappear from the sport after his behavior this season.