June 9, 2014 -- Steve Coburn, the co-owner of California Chrome today reined in his disappointment over losing the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown and said he was "very ashamed" and "was wrong" for his post-race rant.
“I need to apologize to the world and America,” Coburn said today on “Good Morning America.“ “I wanted it so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America and I was very emotional, very emotional.”
“I sincerely apologize,” he said.
Coburn also apologized to the 2014 Belmont Stakes champion, Tonalist, and his owners for saying they took “the coward’s way out” Saturday by not running both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness races, as California Chrome had done leading up to Belmont. Chrome finished a disappointing fourth in the Belmont, losing his bid for the Triple Crown.
“I need to apologize to the winners,” Coburn said. "They ran a beautiful race…I did not mean to take anything away from them.”
“He won the race fair and square,” he said of Tonalist.
The rags to riches story of Coburn and his partner, Perry Martin, in becoming Triple Crown contenders – they bred California Chrome for just $10,000 – captured America’s heart as the horse won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The horse was the heavy favorite going into Saturday’s race and would have become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978.
Coburn’s wife, Carolyn, who could be seen slightly off-camera Saturday trying to quiet her husband as he said their horse “had a target on his back,” says she hopes her husband’s words do not mar the inspirational story of California Chrome.
“This last year, we’ve given so much joy, this horse and our journey and our story has given so much joy to so many people and I hope that 30 seconds isn’t going to destroy all of that,” Carolyn Coburn said today on “GMA.”
“I’m proud of you for coming up here and doing this and it was something that we needed to have done,” she said to her husband. “I hope people can see him the way he is because that isn’t the way he normally is. He’s a very compassionate man.”
The Coburns also confirmed that their horse was injured shortly after leaving the gate in Saturday’s race.
“He made contact with another horse and he got stepped on really bad on his right front foot and tore some of the foot away,” Coburn said. “It’s going to take probably 10 days to two weeks to heal him up.”
As Coburn’s horse returns to racing, Coburn as an owner vows he will return a changed man.
“It’s a learning process for us and I’m going to do better,” he said. “I promise you I’ll do better.”