Sour Grapes at the Triple Crown

Sour Grapes at the Triple Crown

(In this Aug. 31, 1955, file photo, owner William Woodward Jr. congratulates Nashua and jockey Eddie Arcaro in the winner’s circle after Nashua won the Great Match Race against Swaps at Washington Park in Homewood, Ill. Though Nashua didn’t win the Kentucky Derby in 1955, he did go on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes races that year.)

California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn has used his opportunity at the soap box to complain that the Triple Crown is “unfair” because horses can enter individual races that comprise the contest without entering all of them. Coburn claims that CA Chrome was disadvantaged because Tonalist (who had four starts before the Belmont) had not run in the Derby or the Preakness. 

But the rules of the Triple Crown races have not changed in this regard and other horses managed to win the Triple Crown. 

Great horses like Omaha, Citation, Secretariat, Affirmed all won the Triple Crown in situations where other owners could enter their horses in one or two legs of the Triple Crown. And now, we have the suggestion like in so many other areas of our culture, that we should change the rules to make it easier to win.

Not everyone is a winner, and many great horses have almost won the Crown.  Real Quiet, having won the Derby and the Preakness, lost the Belmont by a nose, and Mike Pegram wasn’t screaming about the fairness of the contest. War Emblem (one of my favorites) stumbled out of the gate at the Belmont and never managed to get back his groove. Afleet Alex, went down to his knees in the Preakness and won anyway, but had already lost the Derby. Alex went on to win the Belmont. Smarty Jones, another horse who almost won the Triple Crown was defeated by Birdstone in the Belmont. Birdstone finished eighth in the Derby and didn’t run in the Preakness, and we heard no complaining from the Chapmans.  

And the great Nashua in 1955, lost the Derby to Swaps but went on to win the Preakness and Belmont. Later, Nashua defeated Swaps in a match race.

Enough with the whining. Your horse didn’t win because your horse didn’t win.