Ethic Dunce: California Chrome Owner Steve Coburn*

horses-assAs you probably know by now, California Chrome attempted to become the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown and join a fabled group that includes such esteemed equines as Gallant Fox, Whirlaway, Citation and Secretariat…and fell right on his long face, finishing fourth. The  winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness lost the Belmont Stakes to 9-1 long-shot Tonalist, who did not run the opening two races of the series. Ah, there’s the rub. Part of the challenge of the Triple Crown, a not insubstantial part,  is that it is an endurance test. CC lost to a fresher horse.

Well, you know, that’s why winning the Triple Crown is so special and the horses who achieved it are the sport of racing’s four-footed immortals. It’s hard. When your horse loses the final and most difficult (it’s longer) of the three races after winning the first two, as many horses have, the correct, classy and ethical response is well established. It doesn’t take any imagination. You say that you congratulate the winning stables, the owners, the horse and the jockey, that of course you are disappointed, that your horse ran the best race he could but on this day it was not good enough. Then you shut up, and let sportswriters make excuses for the loss, if there are excuses to be made.

Unfortunately, Steve Coburn, the co-owner of California Chrome, couldn’t wrestle his understandable disappointment to the ground—everyone was disappointed, really, because horse racing is a declining sport, and desperately needs a Triple Crown winner now more than ever—and said this to reporters:

“This is his third great big race. These other horses, they sat them out and tried to upset the apple cart. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. I look at it this way, if you can’t make enough points to get in the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run the other two races.”

I look at it this way: Coburn’s statement makes no sense, and he made himself look like a jerk. Essentially his argument is that it was unfair for for his horse to have to win the Triple Crown under the same rules that defined what have always made winning the Triple Crown a career-defining achievement for a racehorse. It’s like a marathon runner who loses after being favored to win the gold in the Olympics complaining that 26 miles is too long. Moreover, Chrome finished in a tie for fourth, not second: it’s not as if only Tonalist outran him on Sunday.

For disgracing the Sport of Kings on its big day, and advocating a change in the Triple Crown rules that would make any future winner a fraud, this Ethics Dunce award is for you, Steve Coburn. Your horse may have lost, but you won this by doing a superb imitation of a horse’s ass.

* I really messed this up. First I got the name right in the headline, but somehow changed it to “Cohen” in the text. Then I misread a commenter correction that said “Cohen not Coburn,” causing me to change the few correct versions of the name to the wrong one without even independently checking, because I made so many stupid typos that I assume I’m wrong. I even came up with a theory of why I had the wrong name, when I had the right one. It was a bad day. I’m sorry.


Facts: Yahoo! Sports




13 thoughts on “Ethic Dunce: California Chrome Owner Steve Coburn*

    • Thanks. Why did I write the whole piece with the correct name and then insert the wrong one in the title? I have been trying to diagnose the cases of the recent idiotic typos, like dating D-Day as 1945. In this case, I wonder if my mind wasn’t rebelling at calling my friend, former Pentagon exec and defense contractor Steve Cohen a dunce of any kind, especially an ethics dunce, since he is anything but. And who the hell is Steve Coburn?

      Still awaiting your undoubtedly definitive take on the prisoner exchange controversy….

      • I have been trying to diagnose the cases of the recent idiotic typos
        I think it’s a case of just being human.
        Every other time I mean to type “what”, I type “waht”.

        • My two favorites; I have never once tried to type receive without first typing recieve, nor can I type the name “Michael” without first getting “Micahel” Never. And “first” comes out “frist” more than half the time.

          I’m not great on “what” either….

          • My most common typo is “Untied States” instead of “United States.” Perhaps that is some deep perception on my part, as this nation is hardly united in any way these days.

      • Still awaiting your undoubtedly definitive take on the prisoner exchange controversy….
        I keep expecting to come here and see a post that says, “umm…this is Marshall, Jr. My dad was watching the news and his head exploded.”

  1. Jack, I repeat, it has to do with speed-of-typing. Everybody does it, I just have the luxury of reviewing my typo’s before they are posted. Not your fault.

  2. I feel Cohen was a breath of fresh air. As a youth I watched Triple Crown for years until the sport became a cruel game of horse trash. You drop racehorses in desolate hills to starve, die of thirst, or be run to ground with illegal Hispanic owners who like New York go for greed, not a fair race. This Belmont Stakes is as corrupt as ever: fresh horses against horses who do the whole campaign just to win at all costs. Tonalist’s owner was snide; his horse not really part of what used to be the prestigous Triple Crown. CC is the true champion who ran the campaign – Tonalist is joke.
    All we hear about on NBC is the owners, not focused on the nobility of these horses. I would like to have seen CC race Wicked Strong and Curlin, not the spoilers. Were the top three “fresh horses?
    Calling yourselves “ethics” specialists is a joke. Everyone calling the owner unethical shows the gang up of those “in” this still corrupt sport.

    • Boy, you see a lot of jokes; you must be a blast to hang out with. Too bad about those ethical instincts and the logic issues:

      1. The time to complain about the rules is before the race. He didn’t have to play. Complaining about the rules that have always governed the Triple Crown after your horse loses under the exact same conditions the real champions have won is by definition petty, small and poor sportsmanship. And you call such conduct a “breath of fresh air” ! “Hey, the jerk store called: they’re out of you.”

      2. The fact that horse racing is corrupt is completely irrelevant to the post. Are you seriously arguing that the fact a sport one voluntarily participates in is corrupt justifies being a graceless loser? Did I pass along the message from the jerk store?

      3. You’re making up your own rules for the Triple Crown. You do know once they change the rules, winning it is no longer as much of an achievement, right? No, you probably don’t understand that.

  3. The appropriate response might have been. “Hey, we got a great horse for $10,000!” “He won two of the three races.” “We’ll be back.” But no! He has to be a cry baby.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.