Steve Coburn, the bitter co-owner of California Chrome, gave an emotional apology to the winner of the Belmont Stakes on Monday by admitting “he won the race fair and square.”
“I need to apologize to the winners,” Coburn said during a “Good Morning America” interview (above). “They ran a beautiful race … I did not mean to take anything away from them.”
“Congratulations, you got a fantastic horse. And he deserved to win,” Coburn said of winning horse Tonalist. “He won the race fair and square.”
California Chrome had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness earlier this year, but failed to claim the first Triple Crown since 1978 when he came in fourth behind third-place finisher Medal Count. Tonalist and second-place finisher Commissioner had both skipped the Derby and Preakness, which left a bitter taste in Coburn’s mouth on Saturday.
“I’m 61 years old and I’ll never see in my lifetime another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this,” Coburn told NBC Sports immediately after the loss. “It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day 1.”
“This is the coward’s way out,” Coburn concluded.
Coburn said he was “ashamed” of his angry reaction, and was on the verge of tears throughout the entire interview with “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts.
Coburn’s wife, Carolyn, was seen trying to calm him down during his post-race interview with NBC Sports. She told Roberts she hopes “that 30 seconds isn’t gone to destroy” the “joy” California Chrome’s journey has given to fans, and promised her husband is normally “a very compassionate man.”
“It’s a learning process for us and I’m going to do better,” Coburn said. “I promise you I’ll do better.”