Belmont Loser Compares Race to Playing Basketball with ‘Kid in a Wheelchair’

Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome reacts while watching the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes.
Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome reacts while watching the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes. –Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The man who gave us horse racing sensation California Chrome is making headlines this weekend after some eye-raising comments about the Triple Crown contest, including some that were just terrible.

Chrome co-owner and amateur Wilford Brimley impersonator Steve Coburn argued in a number of interviews that his steed faced nearly impossible odds at the Belmont Stakes Saturday, noting that most of the competition did not qualify for the Crown’s previous two races.

“It says Triple Crown. You nominate your horse for the Triple Crown. That means three,’’ Coburn said in an ESPN interview Sunday. “Even the Triple Crown trophy has three points on it. So when you earn enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby, those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby should be the only 20 allowed to run in the Preakness and the Belmont for the Triple Crown.’’


Or, in other words:

“They’re a bunch of goddamn cheaters,’’ he told Yahoo! Sports. “If your horse doesn’t even have the points to run in the Kentucky Derby, he shouldn’t be able to run in the Triple Crown. They’re goddamn cheaters.’’



Now, I’m no sports guy — I think I follow what Coburn is saying here, but can he break it down for us a little more?

Perhaps with a deeply cringeworthy comparison to those in wheelchairs?

“These people nominate their horses for the Triple Crown and then they hold out two [races] and then come back and run one. That would be like me at 6-2 playing basketball with a kid in a wheelchair,’’ he told ESPN.

“They haven’t done anything with their horses in the Triple Crown. There were three horses in this race that ran in the first two — California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and General A Rod — none of the other horses did. You figure out. You ask yourself, ‘Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheel chair?’’

An inelegant statement in the heat of the moment? Apparently not. Asked if he considered the analogy offensive on Sunday’s Good Morning America, Coburn only doubled down on the remarks.


“No, I’m just trying to compare the two,’’ he said. “Is it fair for me to play with this child in a wheelchair? Is it fair for them to hold their horses back?’’

For what it’s worth, commentators seem split on whether or not Coburn has a point. Either way, I’d still like to see how well the old man plays basketball against these “kid[s] in a wheelchair’’:

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