John Clay: Coburn controversy keeps horse racing in the public eye

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJune 10, 2014 

RAC BELMONT 1

Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, greeted fans before the Belmont Stakes. His mood changed after the race. On Sunday, Coburn said having to face fresh horses was comparable to "playing basketball with a child in a wheelchair."

PIOTR REDLINSKI — NYT

Random notes:

■ Loved the line by Evan Hammonds of the Blood-Horse about Steve Coburn: "You can judge a man by how he reacts to his first good horse."

■ I'll give Coburn one thing, his post-race rant about the Triple Crown being "unfair" has more people talking about horse racing than in quite some time.

■ With regard to the Triple Crown controversy, e-mailers have pointed out that the Triple Crown has not always been run in its present format.

The races were not always in the same order, etc. It wasn't dubbed the "Triple Crown" until 1930 by the famous New York Times sportswriter Charles Hatton.

Still, the modern-day Triple Crown has been intact for quite some time. Just because no one has conquered it in 36 years is no reason to make it easier.

■ Another reason not to change the Triple Crown: Saturday's television audience for the Belmont was the second-largest in history, behind only Smarty Jones' failed attempt in 2004.

The 36-year drought hasn't hurt viewership, that's for sure.

Thoughts and prayers to former UK basketball player Todd Svoboda, who is battling bone cancer at the Markey Cancer Center. Svoboda was a walk-on who played in 13 games for the 1992-93 Final Four team.

You always need a huge shaker of salt when listening to any coach talk about any contract or any job.

On May 1, John Calipari tweeted, "Before it starts, I'm totally committed to helping this group of young men reach their dreams. I wouldn't and couldn't leave this group!"

Six weeks later, Yahoo Sports reported Calipari was in "deep discussions" with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become team president and head coach for $60 million over seven years before he decided to remain at Kentucky.

ESPN reported that the Cavs' offer was actually $80 million, which sort of counters the argument that by signing his $52 million deal with UK, Calipari is too pricey for the NBA.

Carolyn Newton Curry, wife of former UK football coach Bill Curry, will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Friday at 6 p.m. to discuss and sign her new book Suffer and Grow Strong: The life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.

Thomas, who lived in the South from 1834-1907, kept detailed journals for 41 years. Carolyn Curry did her doctoral dissertation on the journals and has turned them into a book. Author Pat Conroy said the book was "reminiscent of Scarlett O'Hara."

Good to see basketball rivals split by conference re-alignment are getting back together. On Tuesday, Georgetown and Syracuse announced a four-year home-and-home deal. Also, Baylor and Texas A&M announced a basketball series.

On the eve of the World Cup, if you have not seen John Oliver of HBO taking down FIFA, please jump on YouTube and find it as soon as possible.

Yes, that was former Henry Clay pitcher Walker Buehler who started the deciding game in Vanderbilt's 12-5 Super Regional win over Stanford on Sunday to reach the College World Series. The Commodores play Louisville at 8 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2 in Omaha.

In a "What I Read" piece for The Wire website, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he reads the New York Times from front-to-back every day looking for his name. If he doesn't find it, "I send an angry e-mail demanding they fire the editor."

He was joking.

Speaking of jokes, The Onion reports that John Calipari offered the Cleveland Cavaliers $20 million to leave him alone.

Charles Barkley on ESPN's Mike and Mike this week: "What social media has done is it makes every idiot in the world think that their opinion matters."

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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