What's next for California Chrome?

06/09/2014 12:30 PM

On Saturday, California Chrome became the 12th horse to enter the Belmont Stakes, after winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and NOT come away with a Triple Crown.

For California Chrome, it was a case of what could have been. The Derby and Preakness winner got stepped on coming out of the gates and got a huge cut on his right front foot, also known as a quarter cut. Theoretically, Chrome finished fourth in the Belmont on three good legs. What could he have done on four good legs?

For horse racing, it was a 36th consecutive year without a Triple Crown winner — something racing desperately needs to breathe new life into their sport. But the drama leading up to the Belmont kept horse racing on the front page for a little over a month.

For Tonalist, the colt who won the Belmont Stakes, it was about redemption. Tonalist contracted a lung infection and was scratched from the Wood Memorial in April. The Wood, which was won by Wicked Strong, was Tonalist’s last chance to garner enough points to be included in the Kentucky Derby.

For Steve Coburn, the self-proclaimed “next John Wayne” and co-owner of California Chrome, it was NOT the time to be interviewed in front of a national television audience.

The outspoken Coburn, who has been openly critical of Churchill Downs in recent weeks, had some very candid remarks post race. “I look at it this way, if you can’t make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can’t race in the other two races. It’s all or nothing. Because this is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them to have somebody to come up…this is the coward’s way out in my opinion, this is the coward’s way out.” A visibly angry Coburn told NBC horse racing analyst Kenny Rice, “You know what, if you’ve got a horse … that earns points to run in the Kentucky Derby, those 20 horses to start the Kentucky are the only 20 available to run in all three races.”

By Monday morning Coburn had softened his stance somewhat. He told ABC that he wanted to “apologize to everyone associated with Tonalist” and “all the horse racing in the world.”

“Very ashamed of myself,” Coburn said. “Very ashamed. I need to apologize to a lot of people.”

Going forward, California Chrome heads back to Los Alamitos in California. Where he will get a much deserved break. “He’s good, other than having a good chunk of his quarter cut,” trainer Art Sherman told Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form. “We’ll get that healed up at the barn for two to three weeks, then stop on him for six or seven weeks, give him some pasture time. He needs a rest.”

According to Sherman, California Chrome will bypass the summer stakes races to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup this fall in Santa Anita. “We’ll keep him in California, get him ready for the Breeders’ Cup,” Sherman said. “It’s where he runs his best races. It’s home for us.”

The Breeders’ Cup will also give racing fans a sneak peak at some of the best horses that will make a run at the Triple Crown next year. At $2 million, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is the richest 2-year-old race in North America. The 1-1/16 mile race is restricted to male 2-year-olds. The last horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and go on to win the Kentucky Derby the following year was Street Sense ridden by Calvin Borel. He took the 2006 Juvenile then followed that up with the Kentucky Derby in 2007.

Trey Eckerle

Trey Eckerle joined cn|2 in June 2013. A graduate of WKU, Trey grew up in Louisville and enjoys having a front row seat as Director to Kentucky sports and politics. He can be reached at 502-792-1106 or trey.eckerle@charter.com


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