BALTIMORE (WDRB) -- As California Chrome captured the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, some of his friends and family were conspicuously absent.
Co-owner Perry Martin and his wife elected to forgo the Preakness experience after what some say was a rough experience at Churchill Downs.
According to reports in the New York Times, the Martins decided not to attend the race at the last minute because their business affairs have struggled due to Chrome's success.
After the race, co-owner Steve Coburn noted that Martin had stayed home for "his business" and went on to knock Churchill Downs as he accepted the trophy for the Preakness.
Coburn thanked the people of Maryland for their hospitality saying, "you all need to take a listen on this Churchill. You really, really do."
According to the report in the New York Times, Perry Martin had trouble getting his 83-year-old mother around the track. He had driven her from a nursing facility in Michigan to attend the race and had difficulty navigating her wheelchair to get her around.
Carolyn Coburn told the New York Times that Churchill Downs did not go out of their way to get her where she needed to be.
In a post-race press conference, Steve Coburn said "well, all I can say is my partner, Perry Martin, is a very private person."
"We really wanted you to be here," Coburn continued, "But I can understand why he's not here. The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn't very good."
When asked about his acceptance speech comment, Coburn replied "I'm serious about this. I'm serious as a heart attack. Because you know what? We got to Churchill and not only did I complain, but there were other trainers and owners and even the jockeys were complaining about the way they were treated."
"I've said this once, I've said it 50 times, Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality," Coburn said. "Because these people right here, they've treated us like we're royalty, and I can't say thank you enough."
"We're not royalty. We don't expect to be treated like royalty," Coburn stated, "but the hospitality that these folks in Maryland have shown us is top shelf. I'm talking above top shelf liquor."
Churchill Downs has released a statement regarding the comments and the owners' experience:
“We’re disappointed the overall experience for the owners of California Chrome apparently did not measure up to the stellar performance of their horse in the Kentucky Derby. We have an excellent and veteran team of volunteers from throughout our community that serve as official Kentucky Derby hosts and they work tirelessly to communicate with owners and trainers and to help guide them through the Kentucky Derby Week experience. Our team worked to satisfy the California Chrome team’s needs when they were communicated to us and regret that their experience at Churchill Downs appears to have fallen short of expectations. We would certainly look forward to discussing with them any issues stemming from their Derby experience, and wish California Chrome and his team to best in their pursuit of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.”
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