California Chrome co-owner calls Tonalist win ‘coward’s way out’


Minutes after California Chrome failed to capture the Triple Crown on Saturday, co-owner Steve Coburn blasted winner Tonalist for not competing in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

“This is the coward’s way out,” Coburn told NBC following the Belmont Stakes.

Coburn doesn’t believe such a strategy is fair to horses that run in all three Triple Crown events spread over five weeks.

He thinks fresh horses shouldn’t be allowed to run in the lengthy, 1 1/2-mile Belmont, an “all-or-nothing approach” so as not to provide an advantage. Until that changes, Coburn doesn’t expect the 36-year Triple Crown drought to end any time soon.


“I’m 61 years old and I’ll never see another Triple Crown winner,” Coburn said.

He added that his horse simply “didn’t have it in him.”

Coburn, not one to shy from media attention during California Chrome’s run, co-owns the horse with Perry Martin.

California Chrome became the 13th horse since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but fail to win the Belmont Stakes. The 3-year-old colt finished in a tie for fourth with Wicked Strong.

Tonalist edged Commissioner at the wire while Medal Count took third.

Among those that couldn’t win the Triple Crown are some of the best names in recent times: Spectacular Bid (1979), Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), Big Brown (2008) and I’ll Have Another (2012).

Sir Barton won the first Triple Crown in 1919. He was followed by Gallant Fox in 1930, Omaha in ‘35, War Admiral in ‘37, Whirlaway in ‘41, Count Fleet in ‘43, Assault in ‘46, Citation in ’48 and then three superstars in the ‘70s — Secretariat (‘73), Seattle Slew (‘77) and Affirmed.