sport

Chrome team bemoan Belmont run

California Chrome's part-owner Steve Coburn accused the connections of Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist of "taking the coward's way out".

Coburn made his remarks in a television interview after his pride and joy was denied the Triple Crown.

The rags to riches story of California Chrome had captured the imagination of the public and the colt was sent off odds-on favourite to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

However, he found the step up to a mile and a half beyond him and could only dead-heat for fourth, sparking an outburst from Coburn who felt the winner was at an advantage having not run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes.

Speaking on American television shortly after the race, Coburn said: "You know what? This is his third very big race. These other horses, they always set him out. They set him out and try to upset the apple cart.

"I'll never see, and I'm 61 years old, another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime because of the way they do this. It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. If you don't make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby you shouldn't be able to 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 a coward's way out, in my opinion. Our horse had a target on his back."

Califonia Chrome's jockey Victor Espinoza felt the race came at the end of a tough few weeks for his mount.

He told www.bloodhorse.com: "As soon as he came out of the gate he was not the same.

"By the five-eighths pole he was just empty. Turning for home I was just waiting to have the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little flat down the lane.

"He ran back-to-back races at different tracks - and all those fresh horses."

It was reported that California Chrome also suffered an overreach.