Dumb Ass Partner - by Evan Hammonds

June 7 held such promise. The weather was perfect on Long Island, Martin Panza and crew in the racing office at the New York Racing Association put on the best race card at Belmont Park this side of a Breeders’ Cup program, and the track drew a monster crowd. The anticipation of a Triple Crown win put a crackle of electricity in the air.

Palace Malice, last year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, returned to win the historic Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) before an adoring crowd. Four other grade I races offered handicapping intrigue and thrilling finishes, including a cast for the ages in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (gr. I).

This was racing’s big comeback day. One shining moment.

Then it happened.

No, it wasn’t Tonalist getting up to edge Commissioner in the big finale, with Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) winner California Chrome finishing fourth in a dead heat.
Steve Coburn opened his mouth.

And the co-breeder and co-owner of California Chrome kept on yapping in front of NBC’s Kenny Rice.

“I’ll never see—and I’m 61 years old—another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime because of the way they do this. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. If you don’t make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run in the other two races.

“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. This is a coward’s way out, in my opinion. This is a coward’s way out.”

For five weeks, Coburn and Team California Chrome wove a storybook rags-to-riches tale that drew hundreds of thousands to the sport of racing. His asinine post-race comments, without first conferring with trainer Art Sherman or jockey Victor Espinoza as to what may actually have happened to California Chrome in the race, squashed all that in the span of about 30 seconds.

Luckily, most of the 100,000-plus on track didn’t hear Coburn’s comments, including Tonalist’s owner Robert “Shel” Evans, who had been in a similar situation in 1981 when his father’s Pleasant Colony came up short in his Triple Crown bid.
Yet Coburn wasn’t finished.

“They’re a bunch of goddamn cheaters,” Coburn told Pat Forde’s Yahoo Sports on his way out of the track. “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.”

Yet Coburn still wasn’t finished.

Instead of offering an apology the following morning, on NBC’s “Today Show” he spewed: “These people nominate their horses for the Triple Crown and then they hold out two (races) and then come back and run one. That would be like me at 6-2 playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair.”

We now know the true reason that his partnership with Perry Martin has “DAP” on their silks. Coburn proved him self to be a “dumb ass partner.”

As the old racing adage goes: You can judge a man by how he reacts to his first good horse.

Mercifully, Coburn offered a tearful apology to the nation June 9 on “Good Morning America” but his antics for the 36 hours prior were deplorable and an embarrassment to anyone associated with the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The stewards should give him days.

We came to New York expecting to witness a superlative card of racing and to see if California Chrome had what it took to join racing’s most exclusive club. Despite the wondrous day and the efforts of California Chrome, what is left is the vision of a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum.

In any endeavor, one should win with grace and lose with dignity. Considering Coburn’s boasting after the Derby and his gut-punch to Churchill Downs after the Preakness, he has exhibited neither on his journey.

There is a reason only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown. It takes a special horse with the talents and the temperament to make it through the five-week journey in the spring. And that goes for the connections as well. Those 11 winners had owners who were sportsmen and who graciously represented racing with a certain level of class. Coburn proved he doesn’t belong with that group and was a true spoil sport with his post-race comments.

He is proof positive the racing gods exist.


Leave a Comment:


Oh come on, you never got drunk and said a bunch of stuff you later regretted? What he said was wrong, everyone agrees on that and at the end of the day (or two days later) he fessed up and apologized.

10 Jun 2014 2:20 PM

although, is this what making horse racing great?  unnecessary to be Jesus Christ or Paul Mellon Evans to own a horse in the sport we have now.

10 Jun 2014 2:26 PM

May I suggest that you read the article of Steve Haskin, your colleague, and  move on.  Yes, Steve Coburn was a dumb ass for his comments, but respectfully, do you think it is right for you to sit on Mt. Olympus and opine that the racing gods are just.  That is so petty and mean and wrong.  California Chrome is the hero and did not deserve any punishment including your comments.

10 Jun 2014 2:35 PM

I've always said the sign of a man is one that can admit he was wrong and apologize for it.  Thank you Steve Coburn.  Racing needed that.

10 Jun 2014 2:42 PM

The Triple Crown bid, once again, united and strengthened our sport. It brought in the common fan who doesn't specialize like we do. And now that the bid's gone, Coburn's rowdy self is still selling papers and advertising. Not to mention, he got all of us thinking and constructively debating our sport so thank YOU, Steve Coburn.

10 Jun 2014 2:54 PM

Mr. Hammonds--I agree with jancatalona & Virgil. You should follow the lead set by Steve Haskin and try to be a little kinder. We all agree Steve Coburn's remarks were VERY out-of-line and more than unfortunate, but your statement that the racing gods saw to it that Chrome didn't win is also VERY out-of-line. Chrome certainly didn't deserve your demeaning remark!!!

10 Jun 2014 3:03 PM

Not the best choice of words but a VERY legitimate point was made by Mr. Coburn.  His passion for his horse was beautiful to see.  It was personal and upfront and real.  One hell of a lot more exciting than the owners and trainers who just put out another horse next time.  It may have been labeled  "the sport of kings" but the fans make it or break it today.

10 Jun 2014 3:05 PM

Three days ago, right after the Belmont, I would have agreed with you. Coburn has apologized. How about moving on instead of sounding like Coburn himself three days after the fact?

10 Jun 2014 3:23 PM
Rachel NH

And You have just shown your class by writing this after it's all over.

And you disparage the other partner and the whole team just so you can get your pathetic dis of their name for a pun.

10 Jun 2014 3:38 PM

If this piece had been posted before Coburn's apology, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But he apologized BEFORE it was posted on this site, so frankly, with this timing, it just seems like cruel dogpiling. Let the poor guy up already!

10 Jun 2014 3:41 PM
Diane Crabtree

Yes, yes, but a bit harsh I think.  Mr. Coburn is not wholly bad. He bears the consequences of his actions,  in public, just like much of the endless hours of positive publicity he gave before the race.

10 Jun 2014 3:52 PM
Lisa Lu Po

Very well said Mr. Hammonds! You hit the nail right on the head. Coburn displayed a complete lack of class and good sportsmanship after the Belmont. He has opened his mouth so many times over the last month that it was finally wide enough to put his foot in to. Go home Mr. Coburn. Come back later when you grow up and learn some manners.

10 Jun 2014 3:54 PM

perfectly  said  Tom      there  is  no excuse  for a  bad  loser

10 Jun 2014 3:55 PM

I cannot believe you just said this:"There is a reason only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown. It takes a special horse with the talents and the temperament to make it through the five-week journey in the spring. And that goes for the connections as well. Those 11 winners had owners who were sportsmen and who graciously represented racing with a certain level of class. Coburn proved he doesn’t belong with that group and was a true spoil sport with his post-race comments.He is proof positive the racing gods exist."  Your comment here is no proof positive that you seem to have an elitist attitude that only a certain class of people should be allowed to enter their horses in the Triple Crown. Really!!  Well now who the heck are you to make this kind of a statement.  Keep out the lower class.  Wow, I am shocked at this statement, even more than what Mr. Coburn said. He said what many others, I am sure have felt, but never said, I hear trash talk at the track all the time, there just is no microphones in their faces and it is not broadcast on national TV.  Just because he is not stoic like Todd Pletcher, you can never tell just by looking at him whether his horses win or lose.  Not to Mr. Coburn, put on the Todd Poker face at the races and don't talk to reporters.  That will really boost the TV ratings when owner start refusing to speak to the media.  I am sure you have said things you regret and it should be the statement you just wrote on here.  Maybe time for you to apologize.  Geez, Mr. Coburn is just a guy that tried to enter into horse racing with a colt he bred himself with a mare he owns with another dude.  Turned out he got a pretty nice race horse, regardless of what people are saying about the horse now he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness racing against all the horses that the big guns could get to the Derby, so he was no slouch of a horse. So why trash the horse also.  

10 Jun 2014 4:00 PM

Everyone including Mr. Colburn realizes that way too much was said. That said he had a point. Instead of the analogy of the little girl and basketball (lame) he might have said, "it's like jumping in the olympic 100 m final without going thru the prelims! Regardless Belmont could solve the problem by simply adding an incentive (that be money) to Derby and Preakness Competitors...say 250K + your position money if you ran both or maybe 125K + position money if you ran only one! Just sayin! Also the "Racin Gods" did not smite CC or the owners...

10 Jun 2014 4:02 PM

Sure it was bad timing and poor sportsmanship, but he wasn't saying anything that any newbie to the game doesn't say when they find out horses can skip races in the Triple Crown and come in rested just to upset the apple cart. They think it is unfair. They see the T/C trophy and hear the media treat the 3 races like they are a series. However, while it doesn't really give a golfer or tennis player and advantage to skip one major to point to another for golf, or one Open for another for tennis; it does give a horse an advantage to rest and not run in the Preakness or even the Derby. New shooters rule in post 1980 Belmont Stakes. You see, the time between a major or an open is several weeks or even two months or more in some cases. In horseracing the three T/C races are right on top of each other and the horses that rest have an advantage. It didn't used to be that way because all horses raced back in 2 to 3 weeks. Just look at the condition the 3 horses that ran in the Derby and Preakness came out of the Belmont Stakes in...the breed is not as sound, is on lasix (no T/C since its mass usage) and simply is not trained to race in such a time frame.

The most unfortunate part of Coburn's rant, however, was that Tonalist and his connections would have run in the Derby if he wasn't injured before the Wood (if he earned the points).

Look, most of us know Chrome's ride was less than optimal, no horse has won the Triple Crown trying to run down horses in the stretch (every single T/C winner was on the lead by the time they hit the strecth, and most went wire to wire--it takes less energy to run at one pace if you have the cruising speed--than to sit and make a big move.

I agree it was ill timed but he was drinking and he said something and he has now apologized. The good thing is the T/C and racing is still in the news. And people are talking about the T/C and what should or should not be done...

10 Jun 2014 4:04 PM

evan,,,now first off i agree with you -next get ready ready for all the chrome junkies attacking you from all sides,,,calling you name ect....facts are fact...here they are

FACT #1--regardless of the apology(and i wish it happened sunday moring,,i really think art sherman told his butt off!)..COBURN is A DUMBASS





i can go on but i'll wait for the CC junkies to attack

it actually get funny with their replies at times

10 Jun 2014 4:12 PM
Soldier Course

I believe someone made Mr. Coburn apologize yesterday. But whether that's what happened or not, this "rant" topic has reached tabloid proportions with The Blood-Horse. At the same time BH articles all but ignored the fact that California Chrome sustained an injury at the start of the Belmont Stakes. BH hyped the poor horse for weeks, then after he lost he was Buster-headed-back-to-the-barn-for-a-bath.

10 Jun 2014 4:27 PM
Alisa Harrington

The connection of California Chrome were heart broken. Does it make the comments of Mr Coburn justified? No, but not only does it take a special horse but it takes special people to handle this great horses as well. To be so caught up in the moment and then have your world tumble like that, you lose it.. Thank you California Chrome for your grace and heart to bring hope to the racing world. Good Luck to you in all the races you have ahead of you.

10 Jun 2014 4:34 PM

Maybe small changes are needed to reduce chances of ruining a horse before he really gets going. They are only 3 yr olds. Coburn reacting to thinking like Trevor Denman's call "looks like he jumped in at the quarter pole." Tonalist didn't jump in there but was fresh. I love tradition too but- the man makes one think. Would love to see horses race longer than breed sooner.

10 Jun 2014 4:39 PM

A bit Johnny Come Lately, wouldn't you say? Perhaps Coburn's apology empowered you to post this editorial? So, just where is it written that all the other Triple Crown winning owners were so classy? All wealthy, perhaps, but I doubt I'd consider many of them classy...So you claim he should have waited to hear his trainer's take on the loss. If you're alluding to C.C being grabbed on the fore, many horsemen would tell you that this was unlikely the cause for his loss (think adrenalin). And, Coburn would have had a rather long wait at remaining silent (remember, the media came to him), since initial reports from the trainer, and his son mentioned nothing of this-they said he seemed to return fine. Much of what Coburn emotionally stated was inaccurate, but the central take away message rings true-this series, particularly its timing, is certainly not in the best interests of the horse. It isn't now, nor has it ever been. Some may forget, but the great Count Fleet never ran again. Want more recent; the very good Sham never again ran...I'll bet you thought you were playing to the crowd, but, by the looks of most of these comments, you miscalculated.  

10 Jun 2014 4:46 PM

The California Chrome story will forever be tarnished for me.  As much as I love and admire the classy colt, an hour post race I was actually somewhat happy that he failed in his bid.  Mr. Coburn dis-honored his horse, his team and thoroughbred racing with his rant.  Even in the face of extreme disappointment, to call the connections of the deserving winner cowards is despicable, he managed to keep the hate and jealousy flowing for another two days. "Cheaters and cowards."  Way over the top. The belated apology was two little, too late. Damage done. Conduct yourself like a man, Mr. Coburn, a man.

10 Jun 2014 5:11 PM

Honest apology not Tiger Woods like that was rehearsed

10 Jun 2014 5:11 PM

Hey, he made a mistake, he apologized, give him a break.

10 Jun 2014 5:18 PM

What people are trying to say to you on here is that many of us also live by the old adage (since you seem to like those Mr. Hammonds) "To err is human, to forgive divine."  So many of us are willing to forgive a person that appears to be offering a sincere apology. Why not you?  I will state again, there are much worse things that happen on a daily basis in racing that should garner your wrath, rather than a this guy who tried to win the Triple Crown with a little horse he bred in California, he has one horse and he appears to really care about his horse.  For some owners, it is just money for him it was a dream, a once in a life time horse, a once in a life time chance at something that has been virtually unattainable for 36 year, if it was just the  money he would have sold the horse when he got that huge offer.  You owe the horse and his owners an apology.  

10 Jun 2014 5:33 PM

You should just have left this alone.  Your comments are neither helpful or particularly insightful.  Rehashing this regrettable episode is bad for racing and shows your lack of empathy, in my opinion.  

10 Jun 2014 5:48 PM

As for the tacky elitist racing gods remark--it's too easy to jump on someone when they're down.  Better to take a kinder, non-judgmental approach like Mr. Haskin.  Agree with Gia.  

10 Jun 2014 6:05 PM

I get that this is from the upcoming issue of the magazine but why post it here? The comments to the originally Bloodhorse story concerning Coburn's Belmont rant have been closed so that should be the signal for everyone to move on.

10 Jun 2014 6:06 PM
Daniel Jividen

Evan:  A beautifully written column.  One of your best ever.  "The stewards should give him days." is the single best line I've read regarding the Steve Coburn train wreck.  (And there have been many good ones.)

10 Jun 2014 6:10 PM
Jen W

OK, seriously, when are people going to realize that the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness are NOT the Semi-finals to get into the Belmont?  These races are not playoffs, they are not qualifiers - they are 3 separate races BY THEMSELVES!  I think the WORST thing that Coburn did is make an uneducated public completely ignorant of what these races really are!  Many of my friends and I have spent the past several days TRYING to explain to people EXACTLY why these set of races are called the Triple Crown.  They are the creme-de-la-creme of the racing worlds 3 year old Thoroughbreds!  The ONLY horse who can qualify to run a Triple Crown is the Winner of the Kentucky Derby. Every horse who was nominated (owners paying a fee to get their horse in) for the Triple Crown races, can partake in any, all or NONE of the three races.  Most likely, of the over 300 horses nominated, you'll see maybe 40 run in any of the races.  The rules CLEARLY state, if you are nominated, you can enter your horse in the race.  However, if the race overfills(too many entries), each race has a specific set of rules as to who gets precedence to run in the race, ie, the Derby has it's point system. Can we PLEASE start educating the public CORRECTLY???  Sigh.

As for Mr. Coburn, you are correct.  This guy needs to stand in front of the Stewards and get days or be fined. I don't care if he issued an apology or not...the aftermath is ridiculous and he needs to be reprimanded for his unsportsmanlike conduct.  These people saying and apology is enough...what if it had been YOUR horse in the Winners' Circle?  What if this guy had called YOU a cheater on National TV?  Hell, they fine NFL players for "excessive celebration" after they make a touchdown. Refs throw players and managers out of the games if they are arguing calls too much. He needs to be reeled in because this is NOT the first time he's acted this way!  Over emotion is one thing, but a slap on the wrist doesn't get the point across. He embarrassed the entire racing world with his antics and he should have to pay for it. THANK YOU, EVAN!

10 Jun 2014 6:47 PM

It is truly mean-spirited to suggest that Steve Coburn's reaction and California Chrome's loss together constitute "proof positive the racing gods exist." I agree that Coburn was less than tactful, but please consider, as Steve Haskin did, the circumstances that might have led to his outburst.

10 Jun 2014 6:53 PM
Paula Higgins

Mr. Hammonds, your comment about a "certain level of class" is pretty reprehensible. It is a well known, among people with class, that you never discuss or reference class. You are over a day late to the party and I am just wondering why you would feel the need to make these comments after he apologized. Very strange and inappropriate.

10 Jun 2014 6:56 PM

This is my last comment on this but I just could not help but think that maybe someone should have suggested to Mr. Coburn to hire a media consultant/trainer to help him through the vast media circus that can ensue once there is even hint that there might be some big news story. I can't help but think of that song by Don Henley Dirty Laundry: "I make my living off the evening news. Just give me something, something I can use. People love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry."  Boy don't they ever.

10 Jun 2014 7:06 PM
Your Only Friend

Gimmie A Break.....I am older then 95% of people writing too you on your blog......So Colburn shot his mouth off........Colburn was right on target....How can you call it a "Triple Crown" when some do not run in one or two events......last I knew too win a triathlon you had too participate in all events too win.....Only ones that would be against this style event would be some owners/trainers who have late developing horse.....they just want too run for Big purse .....understand their position...but disagree.

10 Jun 2014 7:07 PM
Proud Acres

Sorry Evan, that is way too harsh! You just put a 2nd black eye  on the sport. Can we all just move on.,,,,

10 Jun 2014 7:14 PM

It was tacky enough when Coburn and Martin showed up in jeans and unshaven at a major event with a TC on the line being the owners.  I don't care how blue collar you are.  There's a dress code.  

But this article is even tackier.  Written before the apology by Steve or not.  He was upset for his horse whom he loves.  

Thank You Gia, great comments Well Said!

10 Jun 2014 8:04 PM

I'm sort of disappointed in this article. Because Steve Coburn got in over his head and made a fool of himself, that the "racing gods" decided that the Martins, Sherman's, and all the people who cheered on California Chrome should be disappointed and punished? Seriously?

10 Jun 2014 8:20 PM

Coburn's an embarrassment to the entire sport? Pretty much everyone I know agrees with Coburn. No, they aren't racing experts, just sports fans who like to watch an fair and honest competition. I'd worry more about the drugs and abuse and breakdowns. That's just not an embarrassment but a complete disgrace.

10 Jun 2014 8:27 PM

Mr. Hammond you are a day late and a dollar short. I think it is safe to say most of us have turned the page.

10 Jun 2014 9:05 PM

I agree, but now let's move on.   It does make you think about the rise (and fall ) of a "common man," though.

Besides his wife, I wonder how many people twisted his arm to make that apology.

TV, is also to blame.  I think they used more time after the race covering CC's connections than those of Tonalist.

10 Jun 2014 9:49 PM

Are you implying the horse was punished by the racing gods because of his owner? Are you implying that regular folks shouldn't speak out in America when they think something is wrong?

Are you implying simply because Mr. Coburn isn't as skilled in the racing world and on tv and made a mistake ( which he apologized for ) that he doesn't "belong" with other racing folk?

Sure he's a sore loser. Sure he should have held his tongue.

But did you seriously have to pile on with this?

What his owner did does not diminish what California Chrome did at all. He won two prestigious races with nary a pedigree or money to hang his bridle on. He had guts to run with an injured hoof and come in fourth. He was marvelous and he made you and a lot of folks at all three tracks a lot of money, because he brought in fans.

I look forward to what he'll do next. I have nothing but respect for the horse, his trainers, his crew and I'm willing to give Mr. Coburn another chance. Because that's what we do here in America, we give folks and horses another chance.

10 Jun 2014 10:14 PM

I'd entered a long comment but hit a technical glitch and it didn't take. In my opinion, Mr. Coburn's behavior was outrageous and an embarrassment to his co-owner, trainer and fans. I sincerely hope Chrome runs again in graded stakes company. He's a talented, gorgeous horse who has inspired so many. Congratulations Tonalist on a job well done.

10 Jun 2014 10:19 PM

@Gia  If there was a way to agree with you besides a comment I'm afraid you won't see, I'd do it. Since this is my only option: Bravo!

10 Jun 2014 10:19 PM

You were very harsh on Mr. Coburn. Don't tell me that you haven't seen this very thing on Reality TV. People can loose it in the heat of the moment. I cannot believe that you yourself haven't had some of these moments. Let he who hasn't sinned cast the first stone, and forgive, for you have been forgiven much more. Perhaps it is time for you to read your Bible.

10 Jun 2014 10:48 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen:  if you truly read Evan's comments, you may consider that he was talking about sportsmanship.  We have all been losers, and upset ones, and even very, very emotionally upset ones but if you're running a horse in a horse race, even a very beloved horse, do you not stop to think that maybe this might not be your horse's lucky day?  What Mr. Coburn did for me with his outbursts was to denigrate his gallant horse's effort by blaming everyone else for his loss.  Belmont is the Graveyard of Champtiona because it is TOUGH to win.  The Triple Crown is something to aspire to, not something to be handed out every few years just because we haven't seen it for a while.  I, for one, do not want to see it dumbed down.

Finally, if you owned Tonalist or Commissioner or, in fact, any other horse in that race, would you honestly appreciate being called a cheater simply because you ran your horse in the race?

I understand being upset when a great prize is snatched from your fingers.  I do not appreciate kindergarten behaviour from adults.

10 Jun 2014 11:04 PM

After seeing his actions at Pimlico, this did not surprise me.  But it was disgusting.  I am glad he apologized but I have my doubts about the sincerity since he made a point on Sunday of sticking by his initial "heat of the moment" reaction. (I also read he had some potential lost endorsements looming....) It's over and I am tired of it all and ready to move on.  But I think what has surprised me most is the number of people who have defended his bad behavior.  What a sad thing....

10 Jun 2014 11:12 PM

Dress code? Give me a break.  Mr Coburns comments were and are inconsequential to racing.  He made a poor choice, to speak to the media while activated, instead of setting firm boundaries and asking for his right to privacy.  Perhaps if our society were a bit more respectful of boundaries, less intrusive and less tolerant of the media, and in gossip........  Regardless, there are legit issues regarding these races that should be addressed, not to make it easier to win, but to make it safer for .the horses.  Tradition is no excuse for ignorance in the face of evidence.  Statistically the odds of 13 consecutive horses winning the first two legs and failing to win the TC is significant and suggests that there is a problem.  

10 Jun 2014 11:20 PM
Lise from Maine

Mr. Hammonds,

Yes, Mr. Coburn voiced his opinions on camera after the Belmont race but don't you suppose that others meaning owners, trainers, etc perhaps had some similar remarks or worse behind closed doors?

I bet there were some made.

Your article was uncalled for and mean-spirited.

Your colleague, Mr. Haskin, was appropriate with his article on Mr. Coburn's thoughts and feelings about losing. His had a very different tone than yours.

Why don't you learn from him?

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

10 Jun 2014 11:32 PM

I agree with you, I must be one of the few that saw this man for what he was before his rant.  To all you who want to move on.  Too late, people will be talking about this for months.  You may want this black eye that is associated with California Chrome to go away but it isn't as easy as that.  He made the sport look bad.  A lot of people are very upset about it.  But you people want to give him a pass because he cried on TV.  Give me a break. He gave the sport a black eye and any one involved in the sport is going to have to deal with the uneducated racing  fans thinking that that is how all owners act.  They have every right to be upset.  

10 Jun 2014 11:52 PM
Steel Dragon

It was well known behind the scenes that Coburn was a jerk before he came out and proved it to the world.  

11 Jun 2014 12:30 AM

Your comments are right on. Cobourn is a disgrace to racing. I'm sure his apology was forced on him by his trainer, wife and classier partner.

Any "class" of people can own horses and show some class, but complaining about the rules after losing, as well as calling the winners cheaters sure makes it look like he has no class at all.

Secondly, why do so many people think these 3 races are some kind of play-off?  Triple Crown champions need to (and did) defeat all entrants in all 3 races. We don't need a rule change to make it any easier.

11 Jun 2014 5:46 AM

I see it is easy to cast stones, you need to take a long look in the mirror. You are now guilty of the same thing. Some folks just can't leave well enough alone.

11 Jun 2014 7:19 AM
Lee in Virginia

I believe most of the Chrome supporters are embracing not only a very talented horse but the fact that his run at the TC proves that you don't need to be a member of the Old School racing establishment to succeed at a high level.  The Chrome detractors(including Mr. Hammonds) are challenged by that idea and want to maintain the status quo.  The intense attention from fans for Chrome's campaign should prove the direction fans would like racing to take.  That is the discussion racing should be having.

11 Jun 2014 7:31 AM
StrikeTheGold Forever

I an wondering Sir if you should have "Dumb A Columnist" emblazoned on your jackets! I have no tolerance for people who can not show a little compassion and grace in the face of a heartfelt apology. I have even less tolerance for those who feel they are equipped to judge others. Coburn raised some valid issues..that have been the elephant in the room for a century or more..yes, he did go too far..but he did come back and apologize...now it is your turn.  Racing Gods, indeed.  As if they would be that petty and punitive to cause a horse to lose contingent upon what his owner said after the race. Give us all a break. :(

11 Jun 2014 7:39 AM

Your comments validate my thoughts about the 'blue blood' mentality of horseracing: nobodies and cheaply bred horses should win the TC (not classy enough right).  Your mentality also is the reason EVERYONE in horseracing, from trainers, owners and the commentators keeping saying that racing NEEDS a TC winner: while more enthusiasts for racing are needed within its ranks it is your elitist thinking and most likely lifestyle that KEEPS the nobodies out of racing.

Funny though- we all saw what the little guys did to Churchill where handle was concerned right?  Get a clue: the masses are tired of your kind and your elitist ideas.  Maybe we'll choose another sport to support.

11 Jun 2014 8:21 AM

This publication and the author of this article would both like to think that they are in the higher class as relates to horse racing journalism I believe.

Mr. Hammonds penning this article and those in charge of The Blood Horse choosing to publish it may seem to indicate otherwise.

It is probably best to keep comments of this nature for private conversation with your snobby friends, as opposed to presenting it to the general public

11 Jun 2014 8:32 AM

I take issue with your column.  Steve Coburn could have been more tactful in his comments, but there was a lot of legitimacy in what he said.  Saying that he doesn't belong with the 'racing class' was an insult.  Are you insinuating that because DAP's don't have the money and snobbery of the 'elite', they don't belong?  I think you need to apologize for your comments.

11 Jun 2014 8:33 AM

here's a good point for those of you who are kinda saying that Mr.Evan Hammonds has written....

he is writing an story for weekly publication in the magazine...so it's actually his job to write this..not everyone "blogs" so come on!...the guy's just doing his job

11 Jun 2014 8:40 AM

Pot calling the kettle black here - using your platform to call the guy a dumb a.  Spoiled brat is rubbing someone's mistake in their face.  Forgiveness equates to maturity.  

11 Jun 2014 9:11 AM

I agree ... it will take a special horse to win the triple crown; and California Chrome wasn't that special.  For me, the last special horse on the triple crown trail was Afleet Alex and he lost the Kentucky Derby (and I consider that race to be one of the most exciting ones).

11 Jun 2014 9:19 AM

Dumb Ass Partner- by Pompous Ass Writer

I guess if he was allowed to title his piece like that, we are given the right to use A##, too?

Now I understand why nothing ever gets resolved in racing....attitudes such as Hammond's.

11 Jun 2014 10:04 AM
lawrence vaccarelli

and why should the stewards give him days  ? for speaking his mind and making a fool of himself ? were not in cuba you know and he does have a RIGHT to his own opinion....just like you or me....I feel sorry for his wife...she was embarrassed.....and im sure she let him know it.so give up with the speech police tantrum

11 Jun 2014 10:12 AM
lawrence vaccarelli

GIA wrote...."Those 11 winners had owners who were sportsmen and who graciously represented racing with a certain level of class"......REALLY ? I don't want to point fingers or throw stones but a lot of people were not to happy with SLEWS owners were they ?

11 Jun 2014 10:18 AM
Gary de Freitas

It appears that  Evans never owned a horse. Horse  racing brings out the best and worse in people.

All Coburn did was show his total disappointment  in his own horse and like most people when this happens they trike out at others his poor wife took some of his reaction to his disappointment. We all say things the we regret after but some of us don't know exactly how to say sorry so we make excuses for what we have said.

He however showed that he is a bigger man that a lot of us thought and he apologised. His trainer was gracious and we need more like him in this world not only in horse racing. Alan has to be real proud of his Dad  

11 Jun 2014 10:18 AM
William Willer

Wow, Evan, your work is usually spot-on, so in this case, I am giving you a mulligan. Can we dispense with the righteous indignation already? Yes, Mr. Coburn reacted in an unsportsmanlike manner, and I am sure that at some point, even he will come to see how inappropriate his behavior was. But let's just see it for what it was: extreme frustration and disappointment. Some handle it better than others. That's human nature. Those of us witnessing such things simply should recognize it for what it is, and, as Mr. Haskin's noted in his blog, "move on." Rehashing Mr. Coburn's unfortunate remarks amounts to nothing more than bludgeoning the obvious point to death, and adds nothing to the conversation (which might be whether he has a point about the nature of the Triple Crown).  Arguably, if the racing gods truly existed, they would have prevented a tabloid-esque editorial like this. I’ll stop now before I sound righteously indignant!

11 Jun 2014 10:20 AM

Mr. Hammonds editorial is the best I have read. Well written. Perfect. Steve Coburn is a classless whiner. Doesn't seem many who made comments on Hammond's editorial NOTICED Mr. Coburn's reprehensible behavior in the Winner's Circle at the Preakness when he badmouthed Churchill Downs. It was then, I decided he was way off base --heck he horse FFFFing WON the Kentucky Derby. I believe California Chrome had a pretty good experience at Churchill Downs. Only one comment (above) is accurate...STEEL DRAGON said "it was well known behind the scenes that Coburn was a jerk before he came out and proved it."

As Evan Hammond said--you need to win with grace & lose with dignity. Coburn did neither.

11 Jun 2014 10:34 AM

I disagree totally with your snarky comments and agree 100% with Coburn. If this industry does NOT change, among them reasons that Coburn so inelegantly blurted out, racing is destined to disappear as a viable sport. Why so many of you can't see the forest for the trees is a mystery to me.

11 Jun 2014 10:53 AM

Dear Writer: I think that both Mr. Coburn, with his 'coward' comments, AND you, for trussing him up and skewering him, are examples of poor sportsmanship. At least Mr. Coburn has an excuse - being a newbie owner thrust unexpectedly into the intense spotlight of potential horse racing immortality, having just witnessed his dreams suddenly dashed. On the other hand, I don't imagine that you were writing your blog under any duress - and moreover, were specifically writing as such to promote yourself by creating controversy to attract readers and commentary. Obviously you succeeded. But in my eyes, you also succeeded in putting yourself on an even lower 'class level' than you are accusing Mr. Coburn of being on. As other commenters have noted, Mr. Haskins has plenty of readers and is able to write excellent articles that 'tell it like it is' - but with both maturity and insight. And he's maybe got his niche covered, but I think you still could write a very clever, controversial and debate-inspiring article about the issue without being downright mean-spirited. It was a bit too much like kicking someone when they were already down - and that is true bad sportsmanship.

11 Jun 2014 10:54 AM
Smoking Baby

So just to be clear.  A person who rants in the heat of the moment lacks the class required to own a Triple Crown winner but you're fine with a Wall Street financier who spent time in Federal Prison for selling unregistered shares, perjury and obstruction of justice?  

I was as embarrassed and appalled as anyone with Coburn's behavior but I place it low on the list of crimes against humanity.

My point is that just because someone dons a nice suit, looks and behaves a certan way does not necessarily make them a good or "classy" individual.

11 Jun 2014 11:23 AM

Coburn represents himself as a "ordinary guy" and has behind the scenes promoted the horse beyond belief in believing his own prediction of triple crown victory.  The horse is a graded stakes winner and HE should not be judged by the jackass who owns him or the silks that he toils under. I hope for nothing but success for the horse in his future racing and breeding careers.  I also hope that the media will take the microphone and camera out of Coburn's face.

We expect our horses to show class......our horses should demand the same from us.......

11 Jun 2014 11:39 AM
Miss Moonshine

Mr Hammonds,

I am sure that Steve Coburn's comments are going to upset a lot of horsemen and hardboots. And I'm sure that they will all be sneering at him and belittling him. However, I truly believe that Mr. Coburn has raised some very valid points that need to be addressed. I have been following horse racing since the halcyon days of the great Native Dancer, whom I believe is the very best horse I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I am also in a racing partnership with Country Life Farm. Don't let horse racing shoot itself in the foot again. And please appreciate DAP Racing for their passion and honesty and straightforwardness instead of all of the usual BS.

Best regards,

Betty Buckell

11 Jun 2014 1:31 PM
Old Old Cat

Congratulations Evan Hammonds.

You have just set a record for the number of responses to WGOH.  I think the old record was 5.  I think I might have been your most frequent responder because I always thought you analysis of real problems in the racing industry certainly deserved discussion.  

Now with an editorial that does not merit any discusion, on the face of it has produced an emotional heartfelt outpouring from a myriad of racing fans who normally might not read past the first few lines of your articles.

you have woken them up.  Kudos to you.  Kudos to them.  May they keep their passion going for championing the downtrodden dumbasses of this racing world and the horses they love.

I agree that your column would have been fine written and published prior to the apology, after it was over not so good.  I will give you a pass because you may have written in the heat of the moment while under publishing deadlines.

a simple apology,  such as Rooster Cogburn's,  would suffice.  After all he manned up and admitted his mistake.  You should man up too.

11 Jun 2014 1:45 PM
Johnny D

People are allowed to make mistakes as long as they atone for them and do not repeat them.  Controversy is alluring in this game.  As a long time race fan, since I was 7 yrs old (41 now), I think it is rather refreshing to see a man on the big stage hold nothing back and wear his heart on his sleeve.  Make no mistake, I agree with nothing he said, I can just appreciate his honesty.  I am sure nothing will change on the Triple Crown calendar and I hope it doesn't...

11 Jun 2014 2:20 PM

I'm saddened that Steve used the Lord's Name in Vain. After all, it wasn't God's fault. Nor did the "Racing Gods" make California Chrome lose the race.

11 Jun 2014 2:36 PM
smokin okie

i guess all you stone throwers have never made any mistakes? grandpa always told me if you dont make any mistakes you  never learn anyting. key words that coburn said was it is not fair to the horses not him,you or me. has anyone of you took the time out to really realize  that the horse that wins the triple crown or any other race he wins for that matter  gets nothing,the horse does the dirty work while owner,ttrainers,jockeys an racing inrds.i dont think the man needed to apologize for having true genuine compassion for his horse...  for the person who said he has no class due to what he wore at a dinner event is out of line. what if someone who was attending the derby walked up to and said that dress  you are wearing sure does make your butt look big. doubt you would like that

11 Jun 2014 4:19 PM

Good grief, Hammonds.  If you're going to diss a guy who just lost a big horse race, at least quote him correctly.  "Cowards," he called them, not "cheaters."  

As I've said commented before on other site, Mr. Coburn didn't have to apologize to anyone but his wife.  He's a good guy, he's got a great horse, and he just went on the ride of his life.  We should all be so lucky.

So cut him some slack.

11 Jun 2014 5:03 PM
carolyn gow

Mr. Hammonds,

   I am truly disappointed in your column just as  I  was disappointed in Mr. Coburn's comments after the race. Being a 1st time owner and as close to this horse as he was  with the connection of his timely birth connected to Mr Coburn's sister.  This man stepped up to the plate and did apologize to America. You also have to give it to California Chrome and his connections to bring thoroughbred racing like it has not been in years. Every sport has it controversial comments and incidents but when MLB, Nfl,NBA, NHL, and some college basketball have brawls you rarely see columns bashing their bad behavior it is gone and forgotten. Mr Coburn has done the right thing and apologized but I have never heard coaches or owners of these organizations step up and say I apologize. Give the Coburns a break I truly think they are good people and will still be good for racing in the future.

11 Jun 2014 5:09 PM

Secretariat had time off from November to March. Seattle Slew did not run from October until March. Same for Affirmed. With the current point system, it might be doubtful that Street Sense, with a win in the Tampa Bay Derby (does that race even count anymore?) and a second in the Blue Grass, may have even been in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Carl Nafzger would have been dictated by the racing schedule set forth by a posse of suits who stay in the air conditioned offices at Churchill Downs.

The problem is not fresh horses in the Belmont. The problem is the haughty attitude in Louisville that prevents REAL horsemen from being able to train three year olds in the way that is best for the horse. They made the meat grinder of getting to their race, WORSE!

Mr. Coburn had a point, but he regretfully delivered it in anger and chose the wrong party at which to wag his finger. The system IS broken. Does the racing establishment feel in any way obligated to fix it, now that the "upstarts" have been put in their place?

11 Jun 2014 6:13 PM

Mr. Hammonds,after read your column i assume you will have to do the same thing as Mr.couburn did,a sincere and public apologize,you owe it.

11 Jun 2014 7:29 PM
smokin okie

i would love to see ole coburn, win another derby again with another horse and then decline to run in other two legs of triple crown. the man is being crucfied for having the backbone to speak his mind. im sure hes not the first one thats brought this subject up. they didnt have the backbone to say it publicly. blue collar people has backbone the rich just has money.blue collar folks are alot richer in ways that the rich folk cant even imagine.

11 Jun 2014 7:58 PM
Paula Higgins

mz, you and I almost always agree about things but not on this one I am afraid. I certainly understand why he thought Steve Coburn was a poor sport. He was. But once the man apologized it's time to let it go. He is a blustery, larger than life individual, who lacked humility. Plus, he has a temper. That is a volatile combination. But basically he is a nice man, who took time to talk to everyone, sign autographs and do little acts of kindness for children with challenges. It's clear he feels very sorry for his behavior. To the person who said he should be fined by the stewards, I mean really??? That should be reserved for physical attacks and really egregious behavior i.e. running up to Mr. Evans and berating him personally. Nothing he did qualifies for that kind of penalty.

11 Jun 2014 8:56 PM
alex henry

I seem to remember the owners of Seattle Slew having some...questionable...comments after the preakness and especially post belmont. Ex) The Swaps Stakes catastrophe where Slew came home flat 4th...

11 Jun 2014 9:01 PM
Mister Frisky

Spot on Evan.Coburn disrespects his wife on National TV and all the female bloggers give him a pass because they fell in love with the pretty little Cal Bred.Im sure these are the same women who gave Clinton a mulligan for the Lewinsky affair.Hope they are as forgiving to the men in their lives,assuming they have one.

11 Jun 2014 10:33 PM

I still love you, Paula.  We can agree to disagree.

And I don't expect you to shush me and push me away when I am in disagreement with what you are saying -- I sure didn't like the way Mr. Coburn reacted to his wife while he was saying his stuff on TV.

I still think he owes the other owners in the race an apology.  I'd be very miffed that I was called a cheater or a coward over national TV just because I chose to run my horse against his in the Belmont.

Not something to involve stewards, though; we can agree on that.

11 Jun 2014 11:46 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

This was a surprising mean article.  Quit piling on.

11 Jun 2014 11:54 PM

Genuinerisk and Mr. Hammonds- you take Mr. Coburn to task for his comments at the Preakness -- which was a reference to  the treatment received by his partner and family by Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby. Are you aware what happened?  Are you aware how the "nobodies" were treated by CD?  Are you aware how former, wheelchair bound jockeys have not been afforded handicapp parking at CD when they are there to help others?

12 Jun 2014 12:31 AM
Drinks from a glass !!

change is gonna come and has,   and is refreshing and is much needed,  our tracks and mgt need change and we are seeing it .. nice day mr kay at Belmont.....

yes he spoke without care or thought ...........

our sport needs new ideas leaders and vision ........

I've been involved now for last 9 years .. change has to keep coming..........


12 Jun 2014 1:45 AM
Drinks from a glass !!

best day of racing I have seen in my 9 years...

no black eye....great racing Belmont weekend.......

well done......

12 Jun 2014 2:03 AM
Kaye from PA

Very well said!!! Kudos!!!

12 Jun 2014 9:56 AM
Kaye from PA

I like the people making apologies for Coburn.  What he said immediately after that race and later that day can be forgive due to the "heat of the moment".  But what he said the day after, showed his true character.  That's where he blew it.

His apology on Monday was forced by the "P.R." people who finally got through to him to tell him to shut his mouth before he loses any good will that they build with the racing public.  

But too late.

Horse Racing Gods do exist.  

12 Jun 2014 9:59 AM
smokin okie

Sportsmanship?  Seems to be what these tradition is missing.

12 Jun 2014 10:54 AM
Soldier Course


Are you aware of the details of how California Chrome's connections were treated by Churchill Downs? By all means share, if you are. Coburn's remarks at Pimlico were the warmup for his meltdown at Belmont Park. He's expected to appear at the Kentucky Derby trophy presentation this weekend at Churchill Downs. That ought to be interesting.

12 Jun 2014 12:48 PM
Melissa P

While Steve Coburn said all of his words in the heat of the moment and very soon after his beloved horse was injured and lost his Triple Crown bid, you have neither excuse. Steve Coburn and Perry Martin brought the whole dream of breeding an almost Triple Crown winner to the "everyman." Perhaps that's what's really eating you. They aren't elitist enough for your taste. Steve Haskin has it right. Move on!

12 Jun 2014 1:42 PM

Thank you, Mr. Hammonds, for having the courage to speak out about this. I see you are getting blasted, but that doesn't mean you are incorrect.

Only allow horses to race in the Belmont if they go in the first two legs? Why would we do that? Every Triple Crown winner faced new shooters and overcame them. As you said, it isn't meant to be easy, perish the thought that it ever becomes so because if it does, "poof" these so called fans of horse racing will be gone in as quick a flash as they pop on the scene every time a Triple Crown bid is on the line.

Racing has problems that need to be addressed, true problems that are keeping us from seeing a Triple Crown winner, and they begin and end in the breeding shed. When we moved from breeding for quality and instead turned to quantity that favored speed and a quick profit turn around, we lost the ability to have the breeding that would produce such a horse, not to mention creating a whole host of breeding nightmares that have led to unwanted Thoroughbreds ending up badly. I've worked on the side of transitioning these cases, so believe me I know what I speak of.

Watering down the crown would not only do a disservice to the integrity of the Crown, but would also continue to reward the bad breeding practices that we have fallen into.

And before someone asks this question (that I've been asked far too many time) the only reason there is a point system to get into the KY Derby (formally an earning system) is because practically everyone with a 3 year old TB in North America wants their horse in that race.

The crown is earned not given. I appreciate that those who followed Chrome are passionate about him, but he wasn't a great horse worthy of the Triple Crown win or he would have. I learned about heartbreak like that very early on, when watching my second TC quest my beloved Alydar came up short. I'd never say Alydar was better than Affirmed and you can't say Chrome is as great as the 12 who triumphed.

12 Jun 2014 1:49 PM

I agree with the article but was prepared to empathize with those thinking it was a pile on. Then I saw this post from just yesterday:

Steven Bortstein

Yesterday at 12:50pm · Farmington, NM ·

And, as feared, Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, has cancelled his interview for tomorrow. I reached him today to confirm his appearance on my show, at which time he told me on the phone that he was fearful of saying anything more since "everything I've said has been turned around to make me look like an ogre."

While I'm sad that this interview will not take place, I do understand his concerns. From a media perspective, we (the collective media) have had our way with him. And from his own personal experiences, I can see where he'd like to move on from the controversy and focus on the future of the horse.Opportunity missed.

Love Coburn's quote. No one had to "turn everything around" to make him look worse than he is.

12 Jun 2014 4:40 PM

OK, seriously, when are people going to realize that the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness are NOT the Semi-finals to get into the Belmont?  These races are not playoffs, they are not qualifiers - they are 3 separate races BY THEMSELVES!  I think the WORST thing that Coburn did is make an uneducated public completely ignorant of what these races really are!-Jen W.

Fine, lets do away with that T/C Trophy and step referring to each race as a "leg" of the T/C. And while we are at it, since they are three mutually exclusive race, lets let the Preakness move that race back a month from the Derby if they feel like it...

Can't complain, and can't have it both ways. It is either a T/C series that needs to stay the way it is or they are 3 independent races that can be moved to whenever each races feels like.

12 Jun 2014 8:40 PM

GREAT responses Jancatalona and Virgil and 31Smart ! Take a course with Mr. Haskin!

12 Jun 2014 9:10 PM
Paula Higgins

mz, I would never try to shush you! Not to worry, still love you too! I totally agree with your comment about the way he spoke to his wife. That upset me more than anything LOL. But she understands who he really is and I am sure she helped him to see the error of his ways.

12 Jun 2014 9:11 PM
Susan Johnson

I agree with the comments below the article, not Mr. Hammond. There is not one of us who hasn't said or done something we sorely regretted; sometimes days later. His just happened to be on national television. Did he behave badly? Yes. Did he sincerely apologize? Yes. Was this the result of the "racing gods" stepping in? Lets forgive and move on.

12 Jun 2014 10:55 PM

Something to consider: that guy on NBC (Kenny Rice,I think)Is terrible at post race interviews, and could bring out the worst in any poor owner who just lost a triple crown bid. In the week preceeding the Belmont, NBC posted videos from recent Belmonts. And last week I happened to focus in on his post race interview with John Servis after Smarty Jones' Belmont. I don't know how Servis survived. The stupid questions would not stop. So I think I'll take all of this with a grain of salt and move on.

13 Jun 2014 1:24 AM
Soldier Course

Someone else has already mentioned this, but I'd like to see NBC use some of the pre-race programming educating the viewers about the nature of the "Triple Crown" concept. It is not a process of elimination, but rather it is a process of assimilation. The horses meet new contenders and face new challenges as the series progresses, and they have to incorporate and absorb these circumstances. Many viewers may not understand this. There was further confusion when Triple Crown Productions marketed the series as a unified event with common elements, including the $5M bonus to a winner.

13 Jun 2014 2:23 PM
Soldier Course


Why blame Kenny Rice for interviewing Coburn immediately after the Belmont Stakes? When was he supposed to conduct the interview? There would have been an outcry if no one had interviewed Coburn after the race. Kenny Rice gave Coburn the opportunity to conduct himself either like a gentleman or like a bully. Don't blame Rice just because Coburn made the wrong choice.

13 Jun 2014 3:20 PM
Margaret Ann

I was sorry to hear what Mr. Coburn said, almost as sorry as seeing California Chrome loose the Belmont.  But I really think Dreams and reality hit Mr. Coburn hard right after the Belmont.  He had a DREAM and it was coming true.  He BELIEVED, he had a DREAM.  The horse was born on his sister's Birthday.  Mr. Coburn decided his Sister was the guardian angel for the horse, for his stable.  He BELIEVED.  Whether it was the cut on his leg, his pedigree or the 1&1/2 miles of the Belmont, California Chrome did not win, Mr. Coburn's DREAM was shattered and rubbed in his face.  More so by the NBC reporter asking him how he felt, even as the horses were still coming off the track.  Everyone had seen through the Triple Crown, how emotional Mr. Coburn had been. Why would he be any different after loosing this most important race, this DREAM.  I am sorry he lost his temper, his mouth ran on terribly, he shoved his wife and made a truly bad impression.  I am also happy he apologized.  I have trouble holding what he said against him.  His DREAM was broken and so was he at that moment.  I think I have the most respect for Mr. Evens.  He did not rise to the bait of a reporter asking how he felt about being called a coward.  "No Comment."  Wise man.

13 Jun 2014 4:59 PM
Your Only Friend

Mr. Hammond some things should not be said or written...think those who watch Mr. Colburns comments knew right from wrong...your column was wrong.....Few  think we should have pre race programs too give history of Belmont etc.....we have enough of that kind of programing when the Sportscasters try too show us how smart they maybe and do not know when to stop telling us how smart they are ....how about going behind the scene at barns in morning like they did few years back ...giving us the inside what it takes to get top horse ready for big events.

13 Jun 2014 5:01 PM
doc holt


13 Jun 2014 5:40 PM

This east versus west has been going on since racing began here in the states (Seabiscuit vs War Admiral) plus elite vs blue collar. It is an unfortunate fact. It all boils down to the horse and what a great horse California Chrome is, such heart. I was born and bred in California so I have watched for years (will admit I am turning 56 this month) how the east has treated west coast horses whether they were foaled here or not. Mr. Coburn reacted with his heart and showed how much he loves this horse especially by turning down huge amounts of money for him. Were his words the right ones? Time will tell but he had me (who is a tradition lover) into rethinking how we run the TC races. I dont agree with rescheduling the races but did like the idea of restructuring the purse money, that my make some owners reconsider. Only 3 horses ran in all three of the TC races, I wonder how it might have been if this purse structure was in place.

14 Jun 2014 2:51 PM
doc holt

I agree with Mr. Hammonds!!!!

15 Jun 2014 2:08 AM
Mel 2014

I love the classy owners of horse racing.  My all time favorite photo is the connections of Black Onyx celebrating in the winner's circle of the Spiral Stakes in 2013.  It was published on page 44 of the March 30th 2013 edition of The BloodHorse.

Here is a copy of the link to the photo:


I get a chuckle every time I see it!


15 Jun 2014 6:25 PM

I agree with many here that this article was very petty indeed with the apology, on national TV, by Colburn.  This, though, is very much the mindset of you oracles of knowledge of the sport who cast dispersions about on those who are not the "true blue bloods" of horse racing.  It was refreshing to have "blue collar" people show people like you, who rarely have good things and most likely don't have a dime invested in owning or training, to say trash about the very people who are the backbone of the sport.  All one has to do is read this tome or listen to the talking heads on HRTV and TVG who say negative things about owners and trainers who are putting their hearts and money into the sport against gigantic odds, but who have their collective heads deeply entrenched up the posteriors of those who deem "great". That in my opinion, is one very bad thing about horse racing. These folks are good for horse racing.  Perhaps you aren't.

15 Jun 2014 7:17 PM

A truly pathetic article.  Coburn ate humble pie on national TV.  Would you have?  Do you own horses or are you just an "oracle" of knowledge on racing?  I believe it is said in the Bible, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Apparently you have never said or done anything wrong.

15 Jun 2014 9:44 PM
Arch the phoneman

The apology was a day too late.

15 Jun 2014 9:51 PM

Horses don't have the luxury of choosing their owners. Enjoy California Chrome and try to forget the face behind him. We are fortunate, we don't live with Coburn. We can go home and never have to listen to him or see him again. Not the case for his poor wife and that gorgeous chestnut colt.

16 Jun 2014 8:55 AM

ALL well said, Mr. Hammonds !!!  Coburn's a DAP; horse just didn't it (no surprise to me ); and all who fell for the hype....well !!??

16 Jun 2014 1:25 PM

"The stewards should give him days."  BRAVO!!

Thank you for saying what the professionals in this industry have been thinking all along.  This was not a legitimate discussion--it was a vituperative tirade as an excuse for losing.  

For those commenters who say it was just ill-advised comments from a drunk, he apologized so it's OK, etc.--perhaps you may want to consider the connections of Tonalist, who had a perfect day/memory ruined by being verbally (and unfairly) attacked on national TV.  I realize in a Kardashian world it's OK to say anything, get drunk and spout off.  But in the world of serious sport, it's nowhere near OK.  If you can't take a loss and behave like a gentleman when the whole world is watching, then don't play.

Please don't take Steve Haskins' gentlemanly response to Coburn as approval of his behavior. Mr. Haskins realizes this was a sorry and disgraceful episode in racing, aired on national TV, and we should move on to discuss important issues and not give this man any further attention.  Agreed.  But Mr. Hammonds deserves to air his views as well, which are shared by every racing professional I have talked to.  Sadly, Mr. Hammonds was not offered a spot on national TV to air a rebuttal to Coburn.  

16 Jun 2014 1:38 PM

That's it, I have truly had enough. Breeze10 if all you can do is bad mouth the horse and point fingers at those of us that liked this colt (I picked him at age 2 before the "hype" as you say) then let's talk about the Big Brown hype or all the countless hyped horses that have come and gone. California Chrome did make the distance in the Belmont,he was only 1 3/4 lengths behind Tonalist and Commissioner and was not backing up. Tell us who was your fave for the Kentucky Derby and where did he finish behind that Cal-bred horse?

16 Jun 2014 4:18 PM

1. Probably true, he will never see a TC winner. 2. Only

three have won under current format. 3. Steve took

horse racing in 2=3 month from the balcony to center

stage. 4. CC will go down like Spect Bid, most in the

future will assume he won Triple Crown !

17 Jun 2014 1:22 AM

I think the Blood Horse should research the raceday meds of old versus today. If horses today were allowed to run on not only steriods, but the other meds that were allowed back then, we would probably see more triple crown winners.Yes they were great horses, but would they be that great today? I wish there was a virtual way to have the triple crown winners run today on today's meds. Could be eye opening. With that in mind, I don't think we will see another triple crown winner.

18 Jun 2014 8:05 AM

You are 100% correct. To call a gentleman like Robert Evans a cheater is a total disgrace, Evans has been a fantastic owner and breeder and a true class act.  He had enough class not even to answer those stupid remarks.

18 Jun 2014 12:15 PM
Soldier Course


Yes, research is key. How can you fix a problem if you don't really know what's causing it? There's no use changing the Triple Crown unless and until the industry can determine why today's runners keep coming up short. If a doctor misreads the symptoms and makes a wrong diagnosis, the treatment will not cure the problem and could make it worse.

18 Jun 2014 3:48 PM

No one likes to lose. But when you do lose you need to learn how too.

19 Jun 2014 7:25 AM
Fran Loszynski

I was hurt as a racing fan by his comments also but the bottom line is he loves this horse. This horse grabbed his heart from day 1 and like Penney Chenery with Secretariat, he saw great things for this little foal. It's people and owners like this that keep spunk and heart in the race. I'm fortunate to know the greatest owners of a racehorse, Afleet Alex, they too love their racehorse, they would never say any derogatory words but I bet they do understand the love the owners have for California Chrome and it's time we started to realize it's a two minute race that grabs at your heart, head and voice.

19 Jun 2014 1:38 PM

Personally, I understand Mr. Coburn's frustration.  I never realized that other horses could rest up and join in on the races.  At that point, a farm could just rest a good horse and keep anybody from getting the Triple Crown.  His point is well taken.  Maybe we should look into the value of the Triple Crown and only those who earn the points to get into the Kentucky Derby be allowed to run in those other races.  Something to consider.  I don't think he said anything real ugly, only showed his disappointment.  Not near as bad as we hear on the news daily or from some of our "celebrities".  I resent more the tone of this article and the judgmental attitude of the writer.  I little understanding and compassion might be in order here.

19 Jun 2014 1:46 PM
Soldier Course

If Coburn and Martin should ever decide to sell California Chrome, I'd love to see Jerry and Ann Moss buy him and continue to race him.

19 Jun 2014 4:27 PM
Uncle Smiley

It appears he never knew there was not an event called the Tripple Crown.

No trophy, no purse.  The Tripple is just offhand recognition of taking three particular races.

You can't make entries for events that never occur!

Nor can you schedule entries for suit.


20 Jun 2014 9:20 PM
Bob Angelo

Mr. Coburn showed very poor judgement.  Drinking on and off camera during all three jewels of the triple crown.  His apology did not appear genuine and he is very lucky that California Chrome's connections have been patient with him.  This is not the man's first horse or disappointment. Dreams after the fact cannot be validated.  The man didn't take a second to see that the horse came out of the race healthy.  Coburn has been a huge disappointment to Chrome's fans.

28 Jun 2014 1:22 AM

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