After the running of the 2014 Belmont Stakes, Steve Coburn, California Chrome's co-owner called out an Achilles heel of Triple Crown racing. When it comes to horse racing's three prestigious Triple Crown tracks, Churchill Downs, The Preakness, and The Belmont Stakes, rules do not require horses to compete in all three. This leaves open the opportunity for fresh rested horses to enter the last two legs (Preakness and Belmont) of the Triple Crown races with odds heavily in their favor of beating horses that ran in the preceding one or two races.
That is exactly what happened in the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
The entry rules play out like this.
For a horse to be entered into a Triple Crown race, their owners must pay a fee ranging from $600 to as much as $6000 from January to late March, depending on how early or how late they decide to enter their prized thoroughbred.
Beginning in 2013 horses participating in the Derby must also have participated in prep races and the championship series leading up to the Churchill Downs showdown to scavenge together enough points to be one of the 20 qualifiers."
However, for the Preakness and Belmont, an owner only has to pay the entry and starting fees on top of the initial Triple Crown fee to participate.
The winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes, Tonalists, and second place Medalist did not run at Churchill or The Preakness, where in California Chrome, Medal Count, General A Rod and Ride On Curlin did compete.
Steve Coburn's point is a good one and hard to dismiss as words of a pouting loser.
"You know what he's been in three, this is his third really big race," Coburn said. "These other horses they always send'em out. They send'em out and try to upset the up card."
"I'm 61 years old and I'll never see a Triple Crown-winner because of the way they do this. It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day One. I look at it this way. If you can't make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races,"
"It's all or nothing. 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.
"This is the coward's way out. Those 20 horses that start in Kentucky are the only ones eligible to run in all three races. This is the coward's way out."
Coburn's comments unwittingly speak to an ill that plagues our current culture and society. One of purchased entitlement that allows the affluent to circumvent rules and hard work. One can literally buy their way in or out of anything today if they have the means and resources to do so. This tilted playing field is influencing politics, the justice system, employment, even life and death. The result of such an ill destroys work ethic, attitudes, and morals and values of honest hard working people.
In the Belmont Stakes, no one can say what the outcome would have been if all the horses had participated in all three races. Then on the other hand it's hard to push back the feeling that California Chrome's hard work was somehow robbed of a triple crown, and Medal Count, General A Rod and Ride On Curlin were thwarted better finishes by rules that favored horses that had not put in an equal amount of work.
I applaud Steve Coburn for speaking out on this when he did. This malignant issue certainly did not deserve a pass or politically correct attitude. "It's all or nothing demands commitment, loyalty, hard work, and ethics. A lot of people needed to hear that.