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Bellyaching at the Belmont

The highly anticipated Belmont Stakes was Saturday evening, and scores of households tuned in to see if California Chrome could achieve the coveted title of Triple Crown winner—the first horse since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. What they got instead was a Cinderella Story turned a Sore Loser’s Saga. After failing to win the race, California Chrome’s owner Steve Coburn made an absolute fool out of himself by fervently protesting owners who had held their horses out of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, referring to them as ‘cowards.’

He then doubled down on his remarks on the Sunday talk-show circuit, going so far as to invoke nonsensical analogies such as playing a game of basketball against a child in a wheelchair or scoops of ice-cream as Baskin Robbins. This man either had a few too many bourbons over the last few months, or he’s completely off his rocker.

Coburn appeared on Good Morning America yesterday, issuing a presumably lawyer-penned mea culpa, but a staged apology will not remove the bitter taste in many Americans’ mouths. With his verbal tirade about cowardice and the rules of horse racing, Steve Coburn removed all of the joy and hope that accompanies an underdog story, and made himself into a poster boy for poor sportsmanship—eliminating a longshot horse as the storyline altogether.

Emotions always run high at sporting events, especially when you have a stake in the outcome. This creates an arena for running off at the mouth and embarrassing yourself, as Mr. Coburn learned Saturday evening. Guarding your tongue is important, especially if you’re in a position of prominence, as allowing the heat of the moment to overtake your reason can produce image-tarnishing results. Steve Coburn wanted to be remembered as the owner of the horse that did what hadn’t been done in over thirty years, instead history will paint him as an example of what not to do when you lose.



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