June 8, 2014 at 7:56 AM ET
The owner of California Chrome – the horse defeated at the Belmont Stakes - lashed out at rivals Sunday, accusing them of taking "the coward's way out" by skipping the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Steve Coburn told NBC’s TODAY show said the sport’s rules should be changed so that only horses that run in the Kentucky Derby should be eligible to compete in the other two legs of the Triple Crown.
“There’s more trainers and owners that do not want to see a Triple Crown than those who do,” he told Erica Hill in an exclusive interview. “Yesterday was a fine example of that.”
Tens of thousands gathered Saturday in the hope of witnessing the first Triple Crown in 36 years, but California Chrome – winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes - lost to long shot, Tonalist.
Coburn fumed after the race that the rules were “unfair,” and said there would never be another Triple Crown winner unless the regulations were changed.
Only three horses in the Belmont Stakes had previously completed in the other two legs, he said.
“It’s all about money. Not about the horses or the sport. It’s all about the pocket book,” Coburn told TODAY. “It’s a coward’s shot at the others.”
“If it doesn’t change, I will never see a Triple Crown winner,” he added.