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Is Belmont Really Fair?

by Diane Quail | Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Perry Martin and Steve Coburn bought California Chrome’s mother for 8,000 dollars. That is considered a “cheap” horse.  Love That Chase won one race is six starts and was bred her to Lucky Pulpit.  Pulpit won three races out of 22 starts and was worth an astonishing 2500 dollars.  California Chrome was their offspring. They made over 1 million dollars this year alone with California Chrome.

California Chrome was considered America’s horse.  What true horse fan or anyone who watches the Triple Crown races wouldn’t root for the offspring of two cheap horses?  Watching owners spend big money on horses because they had such great blood in them only to see them be a dud made Chrome even more special.  Chrome was not supposed to be great, just a normal racehorse and hobby for the owners.

Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness, gaining a huge fan base along the way.  After the Derby, when Coburn was interviewed he stated, “I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown.  If I shed a tear, just bear with me.  This colt was born on my sister Brenda’s birthday.  She died of cancer at the age of 36.  It will be 36 years this year since there’s been a Triple Crown.  That’s where we’re going.”

After all the hype, it was finally race day.  Chrome was the clear favorite.  Critic’s mentioned his feet and the fact that he never raced on the biggest track.  1 mile and a half is the largest track many of these horses would race on.  No one mentioned what Coburn stated after the race.

“It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day 1,” said Coburn, adding he doesn’t believe he’ll see another Triple Crown winner with the rules the way they are.  ‘This is a cowards way out, in my opinion. This is a coward’s way out.”

The winner of Belmont, Tonalist nor Commissioner who came in second participated in the Preakness or Kentucky Derby.

“It’s all or nothing,” he said.  “This is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people.”

Coburn made a good point.  Was he out of line? A little bit, but you have to feel for a guy who truly loved this horse.  In horse racing you will always see a horse whose owner only cares about one thing-the paycheck at the end of the race.

Chrome and the other Preakness and Derby racers did not have the amount of time off that these other horses have which is crucial with Thoroughbreds.  They use more power and need more resting time to be ready for the race.

Harness racing on the other hand, if a horse doesn’t race for a week it raises a red flag.

Thoroughbred horses are trained to run once every seven or eight weeks.  California Chrome only had five weeks resting time and had to race a mile-and-a-half.

Trainers and owners rest their horses for the Belmont because it is so large.  This is a track that you need rest for and California Chrome did not have that rest.  For argument’s sake, he did not have an advantage in this race, but how much can you give the favorite.

Chrome had the two hole, the best spot for a horse because it is on the inside, but he got boxed in and had to pull outside.  This made his trip even longer and made it harder on a horse that was not rested.

There is one more thing to look at.  Yes, Tonalist and Commissioner did not race in the Derby and Preakness, but Medal Count did.  Medal Count came in 3rd, beating Chrome.  Take out Tonalist and Commissioner and Chrome still comes in second.

He was flat.  He was too calm and the track clearly was too much of a challenge for the horse.

Will Coburn’s televised rant be enough for the rules to be changed or will horse racing continue to use the same rules as fans, owners and trainers continue waiting for the next Triple Crown winner?

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