June 8, 2014

Racehorse owner's assertion that "It’s not fair to these horses" to let horses that haven't run in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness run in the Belmont.

You've probably already seen this rant by California Chrome owner Steve Coburn after his horse, having won the Derby and Preakness, lost the Belmont and thus the Triple Crown, which no horse has won since 1978:



"This is not fair to these horses that have been in this thing running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them, to have some somebody come out like this — this is the coward's way out, in my opinion, this is the coward's way out."

The horse has no conception of fairness. The horse doesn't know the significance of a particular race or set of races or why this particular set of fellow horses are running with him on any given day. The projection of human ambitions and ethical standards onto the horse is perfectly silly. But they do run their guts out. Who knows why... other than to say that of the many horses that are bred for racing, only the ones with the instinct to run their guts out are in these top-level races.

It's maudlin and irrational to speak of the horse's sense of justice, but if we look directly at the minds that are relevant, the human minds, Coburn's outrage makes even less sense. Having lost, you look absurd to say that the rules should be changed to whatever it is that would have given you the victory. And the only reason the Triple Crown is so impressive is that it's very hard for the same horse to win all 3 races, with the third race being significantly longer. If you change the rules, you'd retrospectively undermine the past achievements, and the races would be less interesting to the general public and the betting public.

I mean, why are they interesting at all? Maybe it's only because we imagine the horse as having something like a human mind. I'll wait to hear from the horse.

76 comments:

BDNYC said...

Sour grapes. The three races aren't meant to considered as one, as far as I know. Each is its own race; three sprints, not one marathon.

A Triple Crown would be less meaningful if this guy has his way.

Paco Wové said...

Pfft. That's what you get for letting those no-class west coasters into the race.

jacksonjay said...

Seems to me they run their guts out because that jockey is beating the shit outta 'em with that damn riding crop!

Lem said...

Did you notice the wife poke him as he was about to get into it?

The 'unfairness' has been a topic of conversation in that household.

Michael K said...

The owners of race horses are supposed to be classier than this. He really made a big mistake. I've read his background and he may just not know any better.

Anonymous said...

I'll wait to hear from the horse.

He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.

jr565 said...

Not sure if he was saying that it was unfair strictly for the horses. I think he also meaant the people and for the game in general.
But, who else is he going to get? His horse needs to raise some horse.

Tom said...

I think you miss the point. California Chrome had run three hard races in the past weeks, and there is a certain amount of fatigue and wear-and-tear that naturally results. He was running against fresh horses that had not faced the previous physical tests and therefore it was not a fair race--similar to an unrested football team having to face a team with a month off.

The Crack Emcee said...

"The projection of human ambitions and ethical standards onto the horse is perfectly silly."

No sillier than whites, projecting their cultural outlook onto blacks, and being disappointed we don't even try to meet them. For instance, how dare we defeat them in music - without being able to play an instrument - and even do it world-wide. Our sports figures play on fields without grass, run the streets because there's no track, dunk baskets without nets, and catch fly balls bare-handed. Our scientists study to the sound of gunfire.

And we win.

As the French say, "This is not done!"

.




Ambrose said...

Maybe he had gracious remarks prepared to say after winning - but did not expect to lose and so had to speak off the cuff.

Michael K said...

Secretariat ran the Belmont faster than any horse has done since. The series of Triple Crown races has not changed since then. The guy has no argument. Each of the three races Secretariat ran was a record time. He won the Belmont by 36 lengths.

rhhardin said...

Horses do have something like a human mind.

Sometimes cited in psychology as the Clever Hans fallacy.

It turned out that Hans could not do arithmetic after all.

He could, however, tell from unconscious body motions which answer his owner wanted.

See Vicki Hearne's _Adam's Task_ for a better presentation.

Anonymous said...

Sore loser.

broomhandle said...

"I think you miss the point. California Chrome had run three hard races in the past weeks, and there is a certain amount of fatigue and wear-and-tear that naturally results. He was running against fresh horses that had not faced the previous physical tests and therefore it was not a fair race--similar to an unrested football team having to face a team with a month off."

And that's why a horse that wins all three is considered extraordinary. The owner is acting like a punk.

From Inwood said...

As the saying goes, There are more horses' asses that horses' heads....

Michael said...

A horse that only runs the Belmont and which has not trained for and run two other races in recent weeks is in much better shape to win than a horse that has. That was his point.

I believe the owner would agree that the horse itself has no sense of fairness. If you knew anything about race horses you would know that they like to win.

traditionalguy said...

Mr Ed was unavailable for comment. The stud was up late last night and needs to rest.

Horses have always been man's symbol of strength, or were until trains, planes, automobiles and trucks took the role, but still measure their strength with "horsepower."

Today's 7th Calvary means the Tanks or the AirCav Helos...or will until EMP warfare arrives.

Of course Racehorses should be re-distributed.



traditionalguy said...

Just thinking, Donald Sterling has the money to buy himself some real thoroughbreds now.

From Inwood said...

Tom

So what do we do with the unrested football team? (Same thing when one of the teams in the World series who'd just managed to win "pennant" in a grueling seven-game playoff faces a team who'd won it's "pennant" in four games.)


Anonymous said...

Given the way horse racing has declined in popularity over the past few decades, to the point that the Triple Crown is basically all that's left in terms of public attention, anything that would reduce interest in the Triple Crown would be disastrous.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Animals can pick up on the mood and expectations of those around them in a nonverbal way. They can't conceptualize, but they can feel stress or excitement.

After a horse runs, he's going to pick up on the disappointment, anger, or elation of the human beings around him, which likely will have real world consequences for the horse. (If you were the horse, would you rather be around this owner and his people after you won or after you lost?)

The heart is a metaphor, but one with a physical basis. (Secretariat's heart was twice the normal size.)

Ann Althouse said...

"I think you miss the point. California Chrome had run three hard races in the past weeks, and there is a certain amount of fatigue and wear-and-tear that naturally results. He was running against fresh horses that had not faced the previous physical tests and therefore it was not a fair race--similar to an unrested football team having to face a team with a month off."

No, I don't miss that point. It's the reason the Triple Crown is so impressive, as I said. You have to have gone through the first 2 and then do the really long one.

That's what all the prior winners have had to face.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you knew anything about race horses you would know that they like to win."

What is your definition of "race horses"?

Obviously, the ones who are in these high-level races are, as I said in the post, the ones from the larger set of bred horses that have an instinct to go for a performance that within the human world is called a "win."

What is that within the horse's mind? What is "winning"? What is "liking"? I'm guessing it's a instinct in response to conditioning: the bell, the gate opening, the activity of the other horses, the movements of the jockey.

Michael said...

Althouse:
"No, I don't miss that point. It's the reason the Triple Crown is so impressive, as I said. You have to have gone through the first 2 and then do the really long one."

What makes it impressive is that the horse has to win against horses that have not run the previous two races in recent weeks.

My definition of a "race horse" is a thoroughbred that has been trained to run at the direction of a jockey from bloodlines that had speed. In contrast, a jumper or hunter would have bloodlines of similar athletic characteristics.

Some bloodlines produce horses that have stamina as well as speed and these animals are more likely to prevail in 12 furlongs of Belmont versus the 10 at Churchill Downs and the 9.5 of the Preakness.


Virgil Hilts said...

What Michael K. Said
Affirmed won the Triple Crown with a 2:26 4/5 time at Belmont. Secretariat won the Triple Crown with a 2:24 time at Belmont. Yesterday's winning time was 2:28.52. CC aint in the same league. There's a good reason we haven't seen a triple crown winner in a long time.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
Having lost, you look absurd to say that the rules should be changed to whatever it is that would have given you the victory.


Professor, give poor ol' Al Gore a break already, it's been years!

LuAnn Zieman said...

It's not so much that the horse likes to win as it doesn't want another horse in front of it. Most horses just run for the love of running. We have had many horses--mostly quarter horses, which also race, but only the quarter mile, thus the name.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
What is that within the horse's mind? What is "winning"? What is "liking"? I'm guessing it's a instinct in response to conditioning:


The Prof is pervasively skeptical that animals are capable of beliefs.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, give poor ol' Al Gore a break already, it's been years!"

I'm glad you read that between the lines. I considered putting Al Gore into it explicitly.

Ann Althouse said...

"No sillier than whites, projecting their cultural outlook onto blacks, and being disappointed we don't even try to meet them."

No, you are wrong, and considering that supporters of slavery justified or tried to excuse what they were doing by speaking about slaves as if they were nonhuman farm animals, I don't know why you want to go there.

jacksonjay said...

OneTrackCrack, yet AGAIN:

Whites is stupid!
Whites is racist!
Gimme some money!

Ann Althouse said...

"After a horse runs, he's going to pick up on the disappointment, anger, or elation of the human beings around him, which likely will have real world consequences for the horse. (If you were the horse, would you rather be around this owner and his people after you won or after you lost?)"

But I'm not a horse. That's the point.

And the horse that makes it into these races is the one that has the response that works for what the human beings want.

A horse that acted the wrong way would go… where? Do you know where the loser horses go? Do you see any "rescue horses" out there?

Krumhorn said...

"Now Wilbur..."

- Mr Ed

Anonymous said...

Is it fair to the horses to make them run so abnormally fast?

Ann Althouse said...

"My definition of a "race horse" is a thoroughbred that has been trained to run at the direction of a jockey from bloodlines that had speed."

But you have talked about this larger set of horses based on your observation of the individuals from the set who are best able to do what the human beings want. What percentage of racehorses (your definition) are the racehorses that compete in big races and win?You're not seeing them.

Hagar said...

It is just "bizness" as Sal Tessio said, and the horses are generally not asked for their opinions.

Steven said...

Just a couple of notes:

1) While the rules have always allowed non-participation, historically, the prime competition for actual Triple Crown winners have been other horses that ran all three races. So he's got something of a cultural point. Yes, the Triple Crown is tough, but the current environment is tougher than it used to be.

2) Yes, historical Belmont times used to be better. However, historically, there was also no testing for "milkshaking" (feeding the horse baking soda so that during the race lactic acid buildups are neutralized) or steroids. Horses might be in decline, sure . . . but it might just be that doping has declined.

harkin said...

NO one rooted harder for Chrome to win the triple crown than I but the sorry old sap's rant runs counter to the feel-good portrayal we've been fed this past month regarding his humility, work ethic and belief that everyone deserves a chance.

A person's true nature surfaces when he/she faces bad moments, it's just that most don't happen with 50 million people watching.

The owner of the winning horse's refusal to respond to the charges of cheating, choosing instead to praise CA Chrome was a lesson in class the old boy could learn from.

Now that the injury to the horse's hoof has been discovered it regains some of the lustre.

To those here who say the horse wouldn't even be running if someone wasn't whipping it, every racing thoroughbred is different but almost all of them absolutely love to run. The ones that don't are washed out very fast.

Michael said...

Althouse:
"What percentage of racehorses (your definition) are the racehorses that compete in big races and win?You're not seeing them"

A very small percentage of thoroughbreds make it to the televised Triple Crown races. What is your point? As in human life there are many who would like to win at whatever pursuit they choose, but few do. There are many who are quite successful but unknown to the most. Then again, there are those who choose not to compete at all, knowing they would win if they tried but not interested in trying.



PatHMV said...

I would like more details on past practices. Fairness, or lack thereof, must be judged as an historical matter, if the object is whether CC faced unfair competition in the bid for the Triple Crown (as opposed to routine fairness of just another routine horse race).

For example, if historically 90% of the horses entered in the Belmont had also raced in the Preakness and the Derby, then CC's owner has a point. A change in historical practice that allows for fresher horses to run in the Belmont would change the historical fairness of the race.

But if the Belmont has always been run primarily by horses who had not previously competed in the other 2 legs of the Triple Crown, then he is of course wrong to suggest that he was at an unfair disadvantage in an attempt to win the Triple Crown.

That is, one part of the difficulty of winning the Triple Crown is the variation in length between the Derby and the Preakness, on one hand, and the Belmont on the other. Horses who excel at shorter lengths may not do as well at longer lengths, and the few who can do both well deserve the Triple Crown honor.

But another part of the difficulty is how close together the races are, requiring racing at the very highest level 3 times within a very short span. This is where CC's owner may, or may not, have an argument, depending on what the historical practice was.

harkin said...

"Yes, the Triple Crown is tough, but the current environment is tougher than it used to be."

Not according to the sports radio head I listened to last night that said less non-Derby qualified horses were running now than in decades past.

David said...

So much for feel good stories about the plucky outsider. Just another jerk whose good luck far outran his charm.

Tom said...

To clarify, I don't think the owner has a right to complain merely because he was racing fresh horses. All I'm saying is that was his point, not that the horses themselves have some inherent sense of fairness or justice.

MayBee said...

"This is not fair to these horses that have been in this thing running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them, to have some somebody come out like this — this is the coward's way out, in my opinion, this is the coward's way out

Something can be unfair to the horse without the horse knowing it.

The same is true of people. Being unaware of injustice does not make something just.

johnnymcguirk said...

Coburn guaranteed a victory on Friday and on Saturday said there'd never be a Triple Crown winner in his lifetime. Dumbass Partners is an apt name. Btw, Art Sherman, California Chrome's trainer, couldn't have been more gracious. Horse racing, like most sports, would be better off if the owners shut up and wrote the checks and let the professionals do their jobs.

johnnymcguirk said...

Coburn guaranteed a victory on Friday and on Saturday said there'd never be a Triple Crown winner in his lifetime. Dumbass Partners is an apt name. Btw, Art Sherman, California Chrome's trainer, couldn't have been more gracious. Horse racing, like most sports, would be better off if the owners shut up and wrote the checks and let the professionals do their jobs.

gadfly said...

The racehorse owners whose horses were scorched by California Chrome in the Derby and Preakness would be silly to waste their time and entry fees on the Belmont - So the NY racetrack has to get other stables to enter horses in the Belmont Stakes. What am I missing here? I guess nothing except an old man whose dream was shot down - an ego shot that he will survive.

Michael K said...

"Horses might be in decline, sure . . . but it might just be that doping has declined."

No, Secretariat was a very unusual racehorse with what is called "The X Factor" .

The researchers were aware of the huge size of Secretariat's heart because his autopsy had revealed it to be nearly 3 times a normal Thoroughbred heart size. It was a whopping 22 lbs!

It is passed through the mother and has been traced through bloodlines.

dwick said...

I mean, why are they interesting at all?

Judging from the occasional Badger, Brewer, and Packer posts I've seen here, the Professor's interest in athletics would more often than not appear to be somewhat parochial. I suspect her interest in these races would have been heightened and we'd have been hearing a different tune here had the horse been named 'Wisconsin Chrome'...

EMD said...

Tom

So what do we do with the unrested football team? (Same thing when one of the teams in the World series who'd just managed to win "pennant" in a grueling seven-game playoff faces a team who'd won it's "pennant" in four games.)


To be a fair analogy, it would be a football team who had played 18 games to reach the Super Bowl vs. a team that had played 6.

He has a point, but as others have said, it's the rarity of the Triple Crown that makes it so impressive.

Ann Althouse said...

There are 3 weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. If that isn't enough time for the animal to get "fresh" again, maybe we shouldn't be using horses this way at all.

rhhardin said...

All the horses get participation awards.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse

"No, you are wrong, and considering that supporters of slavery justified or tried to excuse what they were doing by speaking about slaves as if they were nonhuman farm animals, I don't know why you want to go there."

Precisely for that reason. Whites treating people like farm animals was naturally going to cause some unplanned-for attitudes, like dismissing whites as an unintelligent "other," as whites wonder today why a segment of blacks may merely stare at whites and their societal ambitions. There is a fundamental difference in perspective - between those who could see humans as furniture and those who never did.

It's not "bad culture," but different, for sure,...

EMD said...

Tom

So what do we do with the unrested football team? (Same thing when one of the teams in the World series who'd just managed to win "pennant" in a grueling seven-game playoff faces a team who'd won it's "pennant" in four games.)


To be a fair analogy, it would be a football team who had played 18 games to reach the Super Bowl vs. a team that had played 6.

He has a point, but as others have said, it's the rarity of the Triple Crown that makes it so impressive.

Ann Althouse said...

"Precisely for that reason."

My point was that it ridiculous to think imagine the horse as thinking in a way like our own, as if they have human minds.

It is less ridiculous for a white person to think a black person's thinking resembles his own. But you're saying no the difference between humans and horses actually is like the difference between white people and black people.

Michael said...

Althouse:
"There are 3 weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. If that isn't enough time for the animal to get "fresh" again, maybe we shouldn't be using horses this way at all."

It is the rare human athlete who would run major marathons in such brief a period. I gather Meade is something of an athlete, perhaps he could give you a sense of the toll of all out effort and recovery time.

I think those who have never been in the arena tend to think not much effort is involved.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Crack said...
between those who could see humans as furniture and those who never did.


I know not to feed the troll but damn do I want to ask who it is that never saw humans as furniture.

rhhardin said...

Blacks not being human like whites was an emergency argument, after the economic justification for slavery ended, for continuing it.

It used to be to the victors go the spoils, and enslaving the enemy was more economic than killing him.

After that point you were better off letting the slave work in his own interest and trading with him, and some noneconomic argument was needed to continue slavery.

It was actually a fake argument.

Ann Althouse said...

"A very small percentage of thoroughbreds make it to the televised Triple Crown races. What is your point? As in human life there are many who would like to win at whatever pursuit they choose, but few do. There are many who are quite successful but unknown to the most. Then again, there are those who choose not to compete at all, knowing they would win if they tried but not interested in trying."

My point is to question the notion, expressed here by others, that a racehorse has a certain mentality (a desire to win these races, to please the human beings who get happy or sad). That may only be the 1%, who turn out to have that spirit and instinct, while the vast majority aren't like that at all.

Drago said...

It would be helpful if Ann didn't clutter up Cracks blog here with her own all too terribly white observations.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

"My point was that it ridiculous to think imagine the horse as thinking in a way like our own, as if they have human minds."

Agreed.

"It is less ridiculous for a white person to think a black person's thinking resembles his own. But you're saying no the difference between humans and horses actually is like the difference between white people and black people."

No, I'm saying the difference between Americans can be like that - that it was set up to be so - with blacks as the horses, thinking our own isolated thoughts that whites don't have to give a care exist.

It does seem as though many American whites are startled when they greet a "clean and articulate" black person, or learn blacks have actually been talking about significant ideas (Reparations Vs. arguing over Sergeant Bergdahl) without their input or oversight.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some white Americans think horses have more sense than blacks.

It's Cliven Bundy and his thoughts "about the Negro" and cotton - it's white supremacy and American culture.

It's silly.

William Chadwick said...

I sort of agree with him. If they are to consider each of the three races as separate and unto themselves, they shouldn't give out a Triple Crown award (which they do when there's a Triple Crown winner). To me it's like if toward the end of a grueling championship boxing match, they halted the fight, let the challenger leave the ring, and then brought in a newer, rested, fresher challenger.

broomhandle said...

"It does seem as though many American whites are startled when they greet a "clean and articulate" black person, or learn blacks have actually been talking about significant ideas (Reparations Vs. arguing over Sergeant Bergdahl) without their input or oversight."

Ah, so talking about things in their own interests. That's certainly a break with a million years of human behavior!
Color me startled.

chickelit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
harkin said...

Crack has said some stupid things (well, usually says some stupid things) but saying blacks have no societal ambitions is one of the all-timers. A person who believes blacks have no graduating high school ambitions nor raising their child ambitions might agree.

I guess it makes sense for a person who considers them lower animals.......such as Crack.

Just keep saying "we win" and it will mask your self-hate.

And don't worry about reparations, the taxpayers will never demand a return of the $1 trillion not only wasted on the Great Society but also used to destroy the black family while keeping blacks on the democratic voter plantation.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some white Americans think horses have more sense than blacks. It's Cliven Bundy and his thoughts "about the Negro" and cotton - it's white supremacy and American culture."

If your point is that some white Americans seem to see an equivalent divide -- horses to humans is like black to white -- and you're outraged by that, I agree with you.

If you point is white brains and black brains are as different as human brains and horse brains, I not only don't agree, but I think you don't even believe that, and if you do, you shouldn't.

Michael said...

Althouse

"If your point is that some white Americans seem to see an equivalent divide -- horses to humans is like black to white -- and you're outraged by that, I agree with you."

There are so few, if any, of such Americans that it is foolish to waste energy, emotional or intellectual,on outrage. Disgust, perhaps, laughter more fruitful.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
If your point is that some white Americans seem to see an equivalent divide


Some non-white Americans see just such a divide, Prof--you were just responding to one.

Mr. Colby said...

What the horses are thinking: "Oat bag! I get my oat bag now!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRM-j1-AZdU

Theodore James said...

Changing the rules of the Triple Crown wouldn't be much different than the DH rule in Baseball.

Which of course really, really sucks.

No, the fellow was just a poor loser.

He'll still do well with stud fees so there is always that.

rastajenk said...

"Changing the rules of the Triple Crown wouldn't be much different than the DH rule in Baseball."

It is a lot different. The three races are held at different tracks, in different jurisdictions, with different sets of rules and legalities. The participating tracks obviously recognize the value of their attachment to this concept of a Triple Crown (and it is just a concept, in spite of a real trophy that never gets used) but there is no overarching entity that can demand changes in how the series is played out.

What Coburn wants is institutionalized race-fixing. But it is to the individual tracks' advantage to have the best horses at that time meet in a hard-to-handicap event that produces more potential outcomes, and for that reason Pimlico and Belmont will never agree to changes that dilute their events.

So, yeah, it's much harder than changing a rule in baseball. And it's not an elimination series, so analogies to fresh teams in playoffs don't apply, either.

Tim said...

1. The guy knew the rules going in.
2. If you make the changes he wants, you cheapen the Triple Crown title.
3. If his horse had WON, he could make this argument. Losing, it is just sour grapes.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

"If you point is white brains and black brains are as different as human brains and horse brains, I not only don't agree, but I think you don't even believe that, and if you do, you shouldn't."

Of course not - whites made up this shit, I just have to live under it. If they see us as non-humans, that's not my problem - my problem is living with them.

Whites appear to suffer unresolved mental problems. For instance, I was watching the film "Banished" yesterday - a documentary about whites violently driving blacks out of American towns - and some whites in the film (like the French) have even a hard time saying "black," or "colored," or anything referring to us, without stumbling. That's a sign of extreme mental troubles, but nobody's diagnosing it or treating it - it's whites, pretending it's normal to be violently insane, as they have for centuries.

For instance, do whites ever ask themselves why they made up all this shit? Why it's so hard for them to admit it and act right? Blacks wrestle with these questions every day while whites (insultingly) admit they have the luxury to "not even THINK about race!" - is that REALLY true? Because that's what I mean:

We might as well be humans (blacks) and horses (whites) considering how little whites actually think about the issues (pickles, contradictions, inconveniences, problems) THEY - alone - have created for blacks to live under.

I spent the weekend studying race - at least about 10 hours - did any of you? Of course not, because only I'm an American with an obligation to fix it's problems, right? Riiight.

You're white. And, if you're gay (for instance) you can use the black civil rights movement to get whatever you want, without ever marching for blacks to get what we want. As a matter of fact, you can march against us - because you're gay and white! Hooray! You have the white privilege, entitlement, and luxury, not to think about whatever you don't want to - and to even look like you don't think at all.

Whatever.

Maybe one of you can get back to me, on the horse thing, once you finish eating your "healthy" breakfasts of oats,...

Ann Althouse said...

"I spent the weekend studying race - at least about 10 hours - did any of you?"

I thought you said you had no free time.

EMD said...

It is less ridiculous for a white person to think a black person's thinking resembles his own. But you're saying no the difference between humans and horses actually is like the difference between white people and black people.

Nothing like helping Crack troll your own blog by staying on topic about racehorses and the Triple Crown.

You're like McCartney to his Wonder.

sdharms said...

that's why it is such a big deal to win the "Triple Crown" , Coburn. If you don't like it, don't run your horse.