Two days after a nationally televised outburst about how fresh horses had deprived horse racing of a Triple Crown champion, Steve Coburn, a co-owner of California Chrome, apologised to the connections of the Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and to the horse racing world at large.
Coburn appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday with Robin Roberts and admitted that he was “very ashamed” of his behavior in the moments after his colt, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, finished fourth in the 146th running of the Belmont, which is known as the ‘Test of the Champion’.
“It’s just the emotion of the whole journey coming together at one time,” Coburn, 61, said. He had said entering a horse that had not run in the previous two Triple Crown legs in the Belmont was “the coward’s way out.” He was still irate Sunday. “They hold out two and then come back and run one,” Coburn said in a “G.M.A.” interview. “That would be like me at 6-2 playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair.”
On Monday, however, Coburn conceded that California Chrome lost “fair and square.”
“I need to apologise to the winners, they run a beautiful race,” said Coburn, who was near tears as he sat alongside his wife, Carolyn. “Their horse won the race. I want to apologise to everybody associated with Tonalist, his trainer, Mr. Clement. I sincerely apologise. I want to apologise to all the horse racing in the world. I want to apologise to my wife, Carolyn, who literally stood behind me since we started this journey. I want to apologise to my partner, Perry Martin, and his family.”
Carolyn Coburn, who had tried to silence her husband in the postrace interview, said her husband was an emotional man and needed time to think through his actions. “I’m proud of him for coming up here and doing this,” she said. “It was something we needed to do. Our story has given so much joy to so many people. I hope that this 30 seconds doesn’t destroy all that.”
Extract from The New York Times