NEW YORK — California Chrome went home to the West Coast Sunday with a bandaged right front foot — and no Triple Crown — after bumping another horse leaving the Belmont Stakes starting gate.
Steve Coburn, who co-owns California Chome, was still smarting, too.
He was irked Belmont winner Tonalist didn’t run in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. After the race, he complained others took ‘‘the coward’s way out.’’
A day later, Coburn was unrepentant.
‘‘It’s not fair to these horses that are running to entertain these people in all three legs of the Triple Crown,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not fair to them to have somebody just show up at the last minute and run. I may have gone off half-cocked yesterday, but that’s the way I feel.’’
Under Coburn’s premise, there would have been just three horses in the Belmont, making it unlikely the third-largest crowd of 102,199 would have shown up, a record $19,105,877 would have been wagered on-track, or an average of 20.6 million would have watched on NBC — the event’s second-highest total.
Art Sherman, the 77-year-old trainer of California Chrome, distanced himself from Coburn’s comments.
‘‘Horses aren’t cowards and the people aren’t cowards,’’ he said.
Coburn went even further Sunday.
‘‘It wouldn’t be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair because I got an unfair advantage,’’ he said. ‘‘If your horse is good enough to run in the Belmont, where was he in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness?”
California Chrome had a chunk of flesh torn from his foot after bumping with Matterhorn coming out of the gate. California Chrome tied for fourth with Wicked Strong.
Sherman said California Chrome has a superficial wound that should heal in 2-3 weeks. His camp plans to point him toward the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Santa Anita.