Peter Schmuck

On the morning after at Belmont, Steve Coburn digs the hole a little deeper

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Apparently, they don't call themselves "Dumbass Partners" for nothing.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn, who hails from Nevada, would choose to double down on the incendiary comments he made after his horse failed to win the third jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday.


Coburn blasted Chrome's Kentucky Derby challengers that skipped the Preakness and the horses that posted only for the Belmont, calling that strategy "a coward's way out" in an NBC interview soon after Tonalist won the third jewel of the Triple Crown and Chrome finished in a dead heat for fourth with Derby rival Wicked Strong.

Surely, he would think better of all that by the time he got to the track early Sunday morning to get Chrome ready to fly back to California.


Think again.

Not only did Coburn say during a live ABC interview that he "stands by what he said," but went on to dig the hole a little deeper by comparing the fresh horses competing against Chrome to a hypothetical basketball match between himself -- at 6 feet 2 -- and "a kid in a wheelchair."

Maybe we should have known all along that the guy wasn't all folksy charm. If you recall, he spent a part of his postrace news conference at Pimlico three weeks ago ripping Churchill Downs for its hospitality during Derby Week.

The guy just has no filter, which would be funny if it wasn't so sad. He followed up the ABC interview by having security officers tell the print reporters who showed up not long after sunrise to talk to him that he had no comment. What a way to guarantee that he'll long be remembered as one of the sorest losers in Triple Crown history.

A cooler head did prevail. It just wasn't Coburn, who was immortalized in a New York Post headline Sunday as "Triple Clown."

Trainer Art Sherman showed up at Chrome's barn to update the media on the leg injury the horse suffered as he left the starting gate Saturday and to attempt to put a more positive spin on Coburn's postrace rant. He even speculated that Coburn would "make a pretty good apology" for his comments when he had time to think things through.

Chrome suffered a superficial wound on his right front leg and lost a chunk of his hoof when he collided with No. 3 horse Matterhorn as they left the starting gate. Sherman said the injuries are not serious, but Chrome will need several weeks to heal.

It may take a little longer to repair Coburn's image. Where his straight-shooting style seemed endearing during the run-up to the Belmont, his behavior in the aftermath clearly has put a dent in Chrome's feel-good story.


"It was the heat of the moment,'' said Sherman, who chalked it up to Coburn being a relatively new owner. "That's not really what you should do in these type of races.

"Listen, horses aren't cowards and the people aren't cowards. I think it was a little out of text, myself, but he was at the heat of the moment. And don't forget that he's a fairly new owner. Sometimes the emotions get in front of you. He hasn't been in the game long and hasn't had any bad luck."

Well, he has now, and he didn't handle it very well.