Sunday, June 8, 2014

No Kick

Another year with no Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred horse racing. California Chrome, winner of the first two legs of the elusive title wound up tied for fourth place in front of a mammoth crowd at Belmont Park, and a national TV audience. The Belmont Stakes, a grueling mile and a half test has been the Waterloo for many previous horses seeking to be the Triple Crown winner.

These three races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes are run in the space of five weeks each spring for three year old horses. It's a grueling gauntlet and it's very rare to even be able to compete in each race, forget winning all three. It's been decades since the last winner.

One of the owners of California Chrome, Steve Coburn, interviewed after his horse lost, felt it necessary to diminish his horse's efforts and legacy by choosing the sore loser path. During a TV interview moments after the race, he railed about how unfair it was that his horse, winner of the Derby and Preakness, was a "target" for other horses, and that because of this, had an unfair disadvantage. (The Belmont winner, Tonalist, skipped the first two Triple Crown races).

Coburn called this result "the coward's way out", impugning the efforts of the winner, and any other horse he deemed unworthy to compete against California Chrome. Watching this interview made me want to cringe, the self debasement was palpable. Even Coburn's embarrassed wife couldn't poke at her husband hard enough to get him to stop his appalling show of poor sportsmanship.

Odds-on favorites don't always win, ask any bettor on the Sport of Kings. Anything can happen in a horse race, let alone a series of three of them. California Chrome had no more claim to the prize that any horse before him, or will follow him. The rules governing the race were the same before and after the race was run. Complaining about the "unfairness" after the fact is pitifully childish behavior for a man of Coburn's age. His grandkids would be punished for such a display, of that there can be no doubt.

And like his horse, California Chrome, stuck in an unfortunate position behind horses for much of the long race, and forced wide around Belmont's massively expansive turn, Coburn had no kick coming. 

1 comment:

  1. Horse racing represents another ugly form of species-ism. People make money quite literally on the backs of non-human beings, treating them as things and objects, rather than creatures with feelings and spirits. No one who claims to care about animals has any business being involved with this cruelty at any level.