California Chrome Owner Apologizes for 'Coward' Rant: 'I Was Wrong'
On Monday, California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn tearfully apologized two days after his post-race rant heard around immediately after his horse missed out on a chance to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes like twelve other horses before him since 1978.
Tonalist defeated California Chrome, who finished tied for fourth, and Coburn said Tonalist's owners took the "coward's way out." He later called them "goddamn cheaters."
"I need to apologize to a lot of people, including my wife Carolyn," Coburn said on Monday's Good Morning America. "I need to apologize to the winners. I did not mean to take anything away from them. I want to apologize to everyone associated with Tonalist, his trainer, Mr. Clement."
Saying he needed to apologize because "I was wrong," Coburn said he was "very ashamed" of his actions and also apologized to California Chrome co-owner and his "Dumb Ass Partners" partner "Perry Martin and his family." He also conceded that Tonalist was a "fantastic horse" who the race "fair and square."
His wife, Carolyn, said though she didn't remember exactly what she told her husband while trying to restrain him on Saturday, she knew "what I was trying to get across to him."
"I need to apologize to [California Chrome trainer] Art Sherman... I need to apologize to the world and America and our fans that have written us and given us so much support. I apologize. I sincerely apologize," Steve Coburn said. "This is such a great story. This is America's horse. I wanted so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America. I was very emotional."
Carolyn, his wife, said this is something that "we needed to have done" because her husband is not normally like that.
"Our story has given so much joy to so many people and I hope these 30 seconds will not destroy all of that," she said.
After the race on Saturday on a telecast that drew massive ratings, Coburn lit into the Triple Crown system and Tonalist's team.
"This is a coward's way out in my opinion," Coburn said immediately after the race, defiantly wagging his finger in the direction of Tonalist's team. "This is a coward's way out."
Coburn was incensed that Tonalist, the winner, did not race in the two previous legs of the Triple Crown and suggested a drastic overhaul, arguing that horses that do not qualify for Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, should not be eligible for the Preakness and the Belmont, the last two legs.
"If you can't make enough points to make it into the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races," Coburn suggested. "That's right. It's all or nothing. It's all or nothing. Because this is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them."
After having a moment to cool down, Coburn doubled down on Saturday after his NBC interview, upping the ante and calling Tonalist's owners "cheaters."
"They're a bunch of goddamn cheaters," Coburn told Yahoo Sports. "If your horse doesn't even have the points to run in the Kentucky Derby, he shouldn't be able to run in the Triple Crown. They're goddamn cheaters."
Coburn was not done. The next morning, Coburn refused to apologize on Good Morning America, saying California Chrome was essentially playing basketball in a wheelchair against a 6-foot man.
"It wouldn't be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair," Coburn said.
Breitbart News editor Liz Sheld, a resident horse-racing expert, called out Coburn by noting that the rules have not changed and a lot of horses (13 after California Chrome) have failed at the Belmont under similar circumstances.
"Enough with the whining," Sheld wrote on Sunday. "Your horse didn't win because your horse didn't win."
Read more from Sheld here.