If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

I’m sure you know the other half of this saying, “don’t say anything at all”.  This would have been good advice for Steve Coburn, co-owner of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, California Chrome.

Last year after the New England Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC playoffs, I reminded you to be a good sport when I criticized Patriot coach, Bill Bilichick for refusing to be interviewed after the game. I stand by my belief that a professional football coach earning over 7 million dollars should speak to the press after a loss, but I think we’d all be better off if Steve Coburn had simply demonstrated poor sportsmanship by giving the press the silent treatment.

Yes, it’s difficult to have cameras watching your reaction throughout the much anticipated third leg of the Triple Crown. And no one wants a microphone  pushed in his face  with someone asking for your reaction to the result only minutes after experiencing a tremendously disappointing race. However, as the owner of a horse attempting to win the big race, the media attention came as no surprise.

After all, for five weeks, Steve Coburn has been the media darling conducting interviews and telling the unlikely story of California Chrome’s success. Five weeks of smiles, laughs, stories relishing every minute of the limelight. Then in less than three minutes everything changed. No first place finish, no Triple Crown winner, no smile, no laughter, instead a rant.

Wouldn’t it have made sense to prepare for the possibility of a loss by practicing a generic statement like, “I’m disappointed that California Chrome won’t be joining the exclusive club of Triple Crown winners, but I’m very proud of this horse as well as the jockey, trainer, and all who were a part of his success. And I’d like to congratulate Tonalist on a job well done.” Not that tough!


Instead Coburn resorts to name calling, accusations of cheating, and worst of all comparing Tonalist’s win to an able bodied man taking on a child in a wheel chair in a game of basketball. What’s with this guy? At least we all now know the real reason the partnership which owns California Chrome is named DAP Racing for Dumb-ass Partners. Steve Coburn has proven he is a real Dumb-ass.

The good news, not everyone associated with California Chrome is a Dumb-ass. In fact, Art Sherman, the horse’s trainer talked about the luck involved in horse racing and the expectation that all of the horses and jockeys in the race are there to win. He didn’t call the competition cheaters. He didn’t make excuses. Art Sherman’s still enjoying the thrill of training a horse that won not only the Kentucky Derby, but the Preakness Stakes as he prepares to get back to work this week.

Be a good sport, and whatever you do, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.