The talking heads are making quite a deal about California Chrome’s co-owner this morning. I’m not entirely sure dismissing Steve Coburn as a sore loser tells the whole story, though. Taken on the merits, the guy does seem to make a pretty valid argument. Having fresh horses ready to step in at Belmont to act as spoilers isn’t something new for Triple Crown contenders. It explains a lot about why there hasn’t been a winner in 36 years.
Is it time for a rule change to limit the field at Pimlico and Belmont to only those horses who started at Churchill Downs? Maybe, maybe not. But sticking a camera in a guy’s face three minutes after the most likely contender for the crown in a decade misses the mark and then being surprised when he has an emotional response feels a little like a manufacture story.
All things considered, he probably handled it better than I would have – not that I’d dare to hold myself up as a exemplar of great sportsmanship. Waking up this morning, Coburn might or might not be a sore loser, but I suspect the sting of loss will be tempered somewhat by the millions in stud fees that will surely follow. If you can’t have the nice shiny trophy, a stack of cold, hard cash isn’t a bad consolation prize.