UPDATED: California Chrome’s Owner Apologizes For Outburst
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NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — NEW YORK (AP) — California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn apologized Monday for his bitter remarks after his horse failed to win the Triple Crown.
Coburn said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” he was “very ashamed of myself. Very ashamed. I need to apologize to a lot of people, including my wife, Carolyn.”
She tried to intervene as Saturday’s interview got out of control, explaining that her husband was “very emotional and I was trying to calm him down.”
Coburn also apologized to the connections of winning horse Tonalist, saying: “I did not mean to take anything away from them.”
On Saturday, he had said that Tonalist took “the coward’s way out” by skipping the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Sunday, he doubled down by pointing out that “it wouldn’t be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair because I got an unfair advantage.”
By Monday though, he tried to make amends. Coburn’s lower lip quivered at times during the interview in which he apologized to co-owner Perry Martin and trainer Art Sherman, among others.
“I need to apologize to the world and America, our fans that have written us, given us so much support. I apologize, I sincerely apologize,” Coburn said. “This is America’s horse. I wanted this so much, for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America.”
If the Belmont had only been open to horses than ran in the Derby and Preakness, there would have been just three horses in Saturday’s race, making it unlikely the third-largest crowd of 102,199 would have shown up or that a record $19,105,877 would have been wagered on-track.
California Chrome, General a Rod and Ride On Curlin were the only horses to run in all three. General a Rod finished seventh in the Belmont and Ride On Curlin did not finish.
California Chrome beat them both, but finished tied for fourth, possibly as a result of a cut foot that he apparently sustained after bumping another horse leaving the starting gate.
“He’ll be able to race again,” Coburn said.
Thousands gathered in downtown Yuba City to watch California Chrome — whose co-owners live in the town –- compete for a Triple Crown.
The city shut down the main drag and put up a TV monitor.
“It’s exciting. I’ve been excited ever since the first race,” Carolyn Bybee said.
Supporters decked themselves in purple and green, Chrome’s official colors.
It all led up to the Belmont Stakes, but California Chrome came up short, sucking the air right out of the crowd. The downtown cleared out in just minutes. Spectators were almost in disbelief.
“It’s depressing. He ran a good race, but maybe next time,” Cassandra Sweet said.
California Chrome would have been the first horse to win a Triple Crown in horse racing since 1978.
Mayor Kash Gill says he still plans to have a welcome home celebration for co-owners Perry and Denise Martin – whose horse has taken this small town on a ride to remember.
“We will have a parade for the horse as well as Perry and we want to recognize him with the highest designation, which is a key to the city,” Gill said.
On the bright side, Gill said the excitement around California Chrome’s run also boosted the town’s economy. Saturday, just about every downtown shop and restaurant was packed.
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