When someone insults the state of Kentucky–even indirectly and especially in relation to horse racing–I take that insult personally. So if anyone else in this state is like me, Steve Coburn, the co-owner of California Chrome, may have lost a few fans in Kentucky this evening after taking a jab at Churchill Downs. During his victory speech, after thanking the people of Maryland for their hospitality Coburn had this to say: “And Churchill, you need to take a lesson from this. You really, really do. Because these people have been absolutely fabulous.” Upon being asked if his team’s treatment at Churchill was the reason his co-owner, Perry Martin, decided to skip the Preakness, Coburn said that Derby Day was a “bad day for my partner.” That certainly makes sense, especially considering the ungodly amount of money Coburn and Perry made that day. Were the drinks not free enough, Mr. Coburn? Were Churchill staffers not at your beck and call throughout the race? I suppose the giant check given to you that Churchill helped to facilitate didn’t help smooth things over at least to a point to avoid public chastisement. Comments like this lend credence to the name these two men have adopted: “Dumbass Partners”.
According to this New York Times article, Coburn’s disdain with Churchill Downs centered around the track’s failure to help Martin’s elderly mother to her seat. Might this be classified as slightly rude considering Coburn and Martin’s status as owners of a Derby horse? Perhaps. Is it worthy of dissing the track on national television? Absolutely not. Coburn’s decision to take a shot at the most famed venue in horse-racing might not come without consequences. After making the comment, ESPN sports business analyst Darren Rovell tweeted “Funny that Steve Coburn took a shot at the Derby. If Chrome wins the Belmont, he’ll need Churchill for licensing deals.”
Consider this your warning Belmont Park. When Steve Coburn comes to town, you better roll out the red carpet for him.