Steve Coburn rant after Belmont Stakes about horses running in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness
Horse Racing, California Chrome

Steve Coburn is obviously a sore loser, but does he have a valid point?

6/9/14 in Horse Racing   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

After California Chrome's loss in the Belmont Stakes, preventing him from becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, owner Steve Coburn went on an epic rant about why horse racing is broken, and the teams whose horses ran in the Belmont Stakes without running in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were cowards.

In case you missed it, here it is:

The next day, Coburn didn't backtrack at all from his statements, and actually stood by what he said 100%.

There are multiple camps regarding Coburn's comments. Some believe that he's right, and that horse racing needs to change.

Robert Harding points out that there have been quite a few horses with a chance to finish the trifecta, yet most have been foiled by horses who skipped either the Derby or the Preakness, usually the latter:
Since Affirmed's win in 1978, 12 horses have entered the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown. None of those 12 horses have won.
Of the 12 horses that played spoiler and won the Belmont with the Triple Crown on the line, nine have either skipped the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes or skipped one of the first two races. 

In the last six Triple Crown attempts, the horses that won the Belmont didn't run in the Preakness Stakes — the race that precedes the Belmont. 

The other camp, however, comes back with the unsurprising retort: "Who cares?"

The Triple Crown has never been an easy task, nor is it meant to be. Tim Layden of SI says there's no need to change:
"So it's true at times, that racing is more museum than sport, and those who would call that a sad thing and mourn California Chrome's defeat will wallow in their tears tonight. They shouldn't. In truth, it is a worthy quest to let horses keep fighting for a place in that museum and wrong to cheapen the requirement for admission."

The lack of a Triple Crown winner in the past 36 years may have decreased the popularity of horse racing, but when it finally happens, it's going to be a huge deal.

Jun 7, 2014; Elmont, NY, USA; Joel Rosario aboard Tonalist (11) wins the 2014 Belmont Stakes as Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome (purple) finishes tied for fourth. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SportsShould the Derby, Preakness and Belmont be considered a "season," and horses be required to run in all or none? There's definitely some merit to that idea. In any other sport (if you even consider horse racing to be a sport at all), a team has to participate in an entire season. Should horses be required to run in all 3? Based on injury concerns, that could result in a Belmont Stakes that only features 8-10 horses.

Should they be required to run in either the Derby or Preakness in order to qualify for Belmont? That might make it a bit more fair for those running in all 3, but would it take away from the prestige of the Belmont?

The Triple Crown is a great achievement. If it ever happens again, it will rock the horse racing world. But will it ever happen again, under the current rules?

Either way, one thing can be agreed upon by all: Steve Coburn is a sour loser, and his rant is nothing short of sour grapes.
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