California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn did not take his horse's loss in the Belmont Stakes well. At all.
In an interview on NBC just after the end of the Belmont Stakes, Coburn ranted bitterly about Chrome's loss, complaining that his horse had to run the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (which he won), and actually criticized the winning horse.
"Our horse had a target on his back," said Coburn. "If you've got a horse, run him in all three [Triple Crown] races." His wife, Carol, standing behind him, tried to restrain his comments, but he continued.
Referring to the winning horse, Tonalist, which hadn't run either the Kentucky or the Preakness, Coburn said, "This is a coward's way out."
"This is not fair to these horses," said Coburn.
Since the Derby on May 3, California Chrome had been catapulted from an underdog with humble beginnings and "unimpressive breeding" to an equine celebrity with fans dubbed as "Chromies" and an endorsement deal with Skechers shoe company.
He went into the 146th Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York -- which is known as "the Test of a Champion" -- as the 3-5 favorite.
Chrome's humble back story -- his owners spent $8,000 on a mare they bred to a stallion for $2,500 -- has transformed him into the Cinderella story of the racing world.
It was jockey Victor Espinoza's second chance at taking the Triple Crown, after the 42-year-old failed to win the Belmont on War Emblem in 2002 to complete the trifecta.
NBC's "in the saddle reporter" Donna Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter in the run up to the Belmont that she believed Chrome had a shot. "He is a great all-round horse.
"California Chrome has the pedigree. His immediate sire [father] and dam [mother] are not impressive, but when you go back to his grandsires, he has an impressive pedigree that indicates he can compete at this level and this distance," she went on to explain. "Also, given the way that he has won the first two legs, you can see him doing it again."
NBC and NBCSN doubled the coverage of the Belmont to 16 hours in the lead up to the main event, including documentary on the famous horse titled, California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion.
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