The Triple Crown Is Intact

“I do believe this horse (California Chrome) will win the Triple Crown. I know he will win the Kentucky Derby,” said Steve Coburn (one of the owners of California Chrome) in a recent interview.

Can anyone spell h-u-b-r-i-s?????? His hubris went unpunished yesterday, but as far as California Chrome winning the Triple Crown, do not get your hopes up too far into the stratosphere.

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That is what I wrote in a post the day after the Kentucky Derby. Today I add, “Don’t say I never warned you/When your train gets lost.”

Yes, I understand that many fans of California Chrome are understandably disappointed (to say the least) that he did not win the Triple Crown yesterday. If you are looking for someone to blame for that result, I suggest you look right at Steve Coburn.

After all, if you go around saying that you KNOW your horse will win the Kentucky Derby and THINK he will win the Triple Crown as well, do not be surprised if the Triple Crown gods exact some retribution eventually. Yesterday was that day of reckoning.

I hope that most of you saw Coburn’s diatribe (to put it mildly) when interviewed on NBC after the race yesterday. Coburn should have been grateful that the Triple Crown gods allowed him to win the first two legs and foolosophical in defeat yesterday. Instead, he caterwauled like a four-year-old denied his favorite lollipop.

The essence of class is exhibiting grace in defeat. Steve Coburn is an UNclassy person.

(Perry Martin is an entirely different story. I have no quarrel with him or with any of the other CC connections whatsoever. Art Sherman in particular is a delightful, classy person.)

I do have to agree with part of Coburn’s diatribe yesterday. I think the time has come for the Triple Crown to be slightly restructured. I would agree with recent proposals that the Preakness should be four or five weeks after the Derby and the Belmont four or five weeks after the Preakness, for a total of three races in eight to ten weeks (as opposed to the current five weeks).

Most people who have made these proposals do so with the intent of making it EASIER to win the Triple Crown. I am not sure that such changes in timing would make the three races easier to sweep. Might even make it more difficult. But that would be a good thing, in my opinion.

I think that more time between the three races would be a good thing because it would encourage more owners and trainers (the latter particularly) to run their charges in all three legs of the Triple Crown. The Derby will always be the toughest of the three races to win, if only because it has a maximum field of 20.

As matters now stand though, the Preakness (and sometimes the Belmont as well) comes up with a weak field because trainers are reluctant to run their charges in all three legs of the series (for mainly legitimate reasons). If more of the best three-year-olds ran in all three legs of the series, the fields for the latter two races would be of higher quality. That would be a desirable result, even if the net effect is to make the Triple Crown more difficult to sweep.

This year’s Preakness had a particularly pathetic field, which is what encouraged me to think along these lines. Whom did CC beat in the Preakness???? The main competition was Ride On Curlin and Social Inclusion. The former has still won ZERO stakes races. The latter has still won ZERO stakes races. If you look at it objectively, this year’s Preakness field was of G3 quality at best. I see that as a continuing trend and one that will probably get worse unless changes are made in the timing of the three races.

I would hope that more time between the three races would lead to better fields for the latter two (the Preakness particularly). And that would be a desirable result. I am not so naive as to believe that all trainers would change their behavior though. Many trainers would still skip the Preakness to run in the Belmont. The only difference would be that they could no longer use the two weeks as a convenient excuse. They would have to come up with some other excuse. I have no doubt that they could invent some transparent excuses.

Maybe I am being too cynical. I still say that more time between the three races is an idea whose time has come. I hope it would encourage better fields for the latter two races. Therefore, it is worth a try.

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Yes, we all want to see another Triple Crown winner. Some people are so desperate to see another Triple Crown winner that any ole nag will do.

I am not that desperate. Any ole nag will NOT do for me. It has to be the RIGHT nag. Which was the main reason (along with the churlish behavior of Coburn) that I was NOT a fan of CC.

For the sake of argument, let us say that Big Brown had won the 2008 Belmont and Triple Crown. Would that have been a “GOOD” thing for the racing industry??????

I think not. Allow me to refresh your memory. Big Brown was trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., who categorically stated before the race, “It is a foregone conclusion that Big Brown will win this Belmont.”

Big Brown did NOT win that Belmont. In fact, he finished last (pulled up). The Triple Crown gods do not look favorably upon the hubris exhibited by the likes of Dutrow, Coburn, et al. And that IS a good thing.

Fast forward to January of 2013. That is when Dutrow was banned from racing for ten years for his innumerable drug violations. Dutrow was a cheater when he trained Big Brown, and that fact was pretty well known (at least among more than passing fans of the sport). It took the industry that long (4 1/2 years after the 2008 Belmont) to convict him and ban him finally and for all of his legal appeals to be denied.

So it would have been a “GOOD” thing for the industry if Big Brown had won that Belmont and Triple Crown while being trained by a known sleazoid such as Dutrow?????? I think NOT.

That is one of the many reasons why I say that any ole nag will NOT do when it comes to the next Triple Crown winner. It has to be the RIGHT nag. Big Brown was NOT the right nag. CC was NOT the right nag either (albeit for different reasons).

I have quoted Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) before and will do so again:

“Deserving horses have lost the Triple Crown, but no undeserving horse has ever won it, and none ever will.”

I am happy to report that this statement still holds true.

Hillenbrand concluded her essay (“Waiting for the Next Secretariat”) thusly:

“Those who worry that we may never see this again should be patient. True greatness is extremely rare; the next Triple Crown winner will be worth the wait.”

The Triple Crown is still intact, waiting for the RIGHT horse to come along and win it.

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2 Responses to The Triple Crown Is Intact

  1. Rob Simmons says:

    Here’s a different reform to consider: Prohibit Lasix in the Triple Crown. Horses will recover sooner and be more able to run in all three races. No TC winner has run on Lasix.

  2. ned williams says:

    Well said. While I am not some kind of zealot either way on the lasix issue, I know that it usually takes more time for a horse to recover from a race after being dehydrated by lasix.

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