Belmont Stakes: Losing gracefully?

There's an expectation that players, coaches and owners win or lose gracefully, but sometimes that doesn't materialize in sports.

There can be sore winners at sporting events. A prime example is Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the 2014 NFC title game. After deflecting a would-be touchdown pass to his teammate, which was intercepted, he didn't take the high road. He belittled his opponent in a post-game interview. It needlessly overshadowed the outcome of Seattle heading to the Super Bowl. 

There can certainly also be sore losers in the game of sport. The most recent instance of this poor sportsmanship is California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn. 

His horse tried to break a 36-year drought in horse racing by winning the Triple Crown. California Chrome came up short in the Belmont Stakes with a fourth place finish to winner Tonalist.

Over 102,000 fans in attendance, including this writer, wanted to see greatness, but were denied once again. Collectively, we respected California Chrome's streak, but ultimately tipped our hat to Tonalist for a brilliant win. 

Coburn wasn't in such a gracious mood. 

In a nationally televised interview immediately following the race, he didn't throw any congratulations Tonalist's direction.

"I'm 61 years old, and in my lifetime, I'll never see another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this. I look at it this way: If you can't make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races. This is the coward's way out," Coburn said. 

Tonalist missed qualification for the Derby because of an illness. And he didn't saddle-up in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

In the fanfare leading up to the Belmont Stakes, Coburn never once mentioned this so-called "controversy." He had the favorite, and was banking on California Chrome demolishing the field.

Coburn knew the rules going in, and cried foul when he didn't get the desired outcome.

There's a reason we've only had 11 Triple Crown winners - it's tough. Three races in five weeks is a daunting task. Twelve consecutive thoroughbreds have now failed at the trifecta; California Chrome makes it unlucky 13. 

Affirmed was the last to accomplish this tremendous feat in 1978. There's no sign that the winless run will end anytime soon.

Mr. Coburn, it's time to respect defeat, lick your wounds, and thank the racing Gods for what has occurred this Triple Crown season. 

This sport has given you, me and racing fans around the world a great story. Give Tonalist his due and look to fight another day . . . complaint free.