So Cinderella turned out to be just as unpalatable as her stepsisters. By that I mean that the world is a little less enamored of Steve Coburn since he started crying foul – repeatedly – after his horse, California Chrome, lost his Triple Crown bid at the Belmont Stakes to Tonalist, who didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness.
I never thought Coburn and the partner were interesting. I mean, how classy can you be when you name your venture Dumb Ass Partners? No, what was fascinating, beautiful, a dream, was that bright as a penny of a horse with his blaze and four white socks and curiosity about us two-legged types and poise and smarts and heart and in the end, none of it was enough.
And that’s heartbreaking but such is life. I still agree with Coburn, though, that it isn’t fair to come into the Belmont all fresh as a daisy and play spoiler. And I see that plenty in the blogosphere were thinking what I was thinking: You have to play every round of the French Open to get to the final.
But others said that such an analogy is not correct. Each race of the Triple Crown – the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont – is not a round in a tournament but three separate tournaments.
So they’re like the Slams that make up the Grand Slam – the Australian, French and US Opens and Wimbledon. Let’s look at the men’s results last year, shall we? Rafael Nadal didn’t play the Australian Open as he was coming off a knee injury and was bounced early from Wimbledon. So he had some downtime. He won both the French and US Opens. Andy Murray didn’t play the French (back problems that would eventually require surgery). He won Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open then lost the Wimbledon and US Open finals as well as his number one ranking (to Rafa).
Had Nole had some downtime like Rafa and Andy, might he have won either Wimbledon or the US Open? Might he have beaten Rafa in the semis at the French, a match John McEnroe called the greatest clay court match he’d ever seen?
Possibly but then again maybe not. Look, just because someone has a perceived advantage over you doesn’t mean that you would’ve won if you removed that advantage.
The truth is that Nole had his moments but failed to capitalize on them, that he was consistently brilliant but not transcendent except at the beginning and the end of the season.
The truth about California Chrome is that he is an excellent horse who might develop into a great one (except he’ll probably be put out to stud). Horses are bred for breeding fees, for the money. They’re not bred for long racing careers and so, they lack the stamina necessary for a Triple Crown champ.
In other words, Shakespeare was right and not John Green. (Gee, what a surprise.)
The fault isn’t in our stars. It’s in ourselves.