Of top finishers at Belmont, only California Chrome had run first two legs of Triple Crown
Co-owner Steve Coburn spent two days complaining about the system
He says he was caught up in the emotions of wanting "America's horse" to win
California Chrome was injured but will race again, owner says
Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes “fair and square,” California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn told ABC on Monday as he apologized to horse racing fans and “the world” for his bitter remarks after the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Appearing on “Good Morning America” for the second consecutive day, the owner of the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes said he was ashamed of himself for his rants after his horse came up short in its bid to win the first Triple Crown since 1978.
Coburn blamed his post-race tirade on his desire to make many people happy.
“This is America’s horse. I wanted it so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America,” he told ABC during an emotional interview in which he held back tears. “And I was very emotional.”
Tonalist won Saturday by a head, edging Commissioner. Medal Count was third while California Chrome and Wicked Strong tied for fourth. None of the other horses raced in both the first two Triple Crown events.
That upset Coburn, who said other horse owners took “the coward’s way out.”
His wife, Carolyn, tried to stop the tirade, but Coburn went on.
“I was trying to calm him down,” she recalled Monday.
Coburn didn’t ease off his comments Sunday.
On ABC, he was asked whether he regretted his rant.
“Not only no, but hell no,” Coburn answered. “I do not regret it one bit. It’s the truth.”
But Monday, he was full of apologies. He apologized to Tonalist’s owner and trainer, California Chrome’s co-owner Perry Martin, California Chrome’s fans, and to “all of horse racing and the world.”
He said he was wrong to complain about the system. Many fans and nonfans agreed with him, however, saying it’s fair to make horses run all three races. They take place in the span of five weeks and end with the longest race of the three.
Coburn said California Chrome, who was stepped on just after leaving the starting gate and suffered a foot injury, will race again.
Carolyn Coburn told ABC she hoped the post-race rant wasn’t the lingering memory people have of her husband.
“That wasn’t the way he normally is. He’s a very compassionate man,” she said.