California’s Chrome got tarnished and it was not the horse’s fault.
As a kid, my dad would tell me, “always count to 10 before you speak when you’re upset.” California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn could have used Fred Grimm’s advice after the Belmont Stakes.
Coburn’s rant on national television tarnished what has been a beautiful “feel good” journey for the underdog horse and his long-shot owners. Coburn did not congratulate the winner. Instead, he sniped, “this is the coward’s way out” for any horse owner who enters his/her horse in the Belmont and not race in the other two Triple Crown races.
It is true it’s hard to beat fresh horses in the grueling mile-and-a-half race. And there’s room for legitimate discussion about the challenge the Derby winner must face. But meeting the challenge is what makes the Triple Crown winner so special. Coburn knew the rules before the races began and if he had won, I doubt you would have heard a peep about the rules. Coburn enjoyed the warm glow of publicity when his horse was winning. It’s too bad he was not willing to let the Belmont winner have the same experience. He even snapped at his wife who was trying to calm him down.
I can cut him a little slack given the heat of the moment. But Coburn needs to apologize to the “cowards” he insulted and congratulate the winner.
If he doesn’t, then he is a horse’s a–.
The writer is a speaking coach and communication crisis counselor.