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Top Secret Fyles: Coburn’s remarks ill-timed after horse’s loss, apologizes

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From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Emotions got the best of California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn after his horse was denied a Triple Crown victory by Tonalist at Saturday’s Belmont.

On Monday, Coburn repented after his bitter remarks, criticizing horse racing’s system of allowing owners to select what Triple Crown legs the horses participate.

Coburn was upset that Tonalist didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but pulled out a second victory at the lengthy Belmont track in four weeks, after winning the Peter Pan Stakes on May 10.

Coburn came off as a crybaby after tying for fourth place, saying that Tonalist owner Robert Evans took “the coward’s way out.” Coburn wanted an equal playing field, suggesting the Belmont lineup should have been horses that had ran in both the Derby and Preakness, racing’s first two legs.

This is horse racing and these animals are delicate creatures. Evans had wanted to have Tonalist in the Derby, but sickness prevented the horse to run in the qualifying Wood Memorial a few weeks before the Derby.

At least, Coburn took a smart PR person’s advice and apologized — better late than never.

For Tony Gwynn’s fans, here are a couple of juicy statistics on the Hall of Fame batting champion worth noting.

The former Padres’ All-Star hit a combined .381 — with only three strikeouts — in his career against star pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, both going into the Hall of Fame next month, and John Smoltz, who becomes eligible for the Hall next year. In Gwynn’s total career 9,288 at-bats covering 2,440 games over 20 seasons, the outfielder posted only one three-strikeout game.

Channel surfing: SNY-TV baseball analyst Keith Hernandez has turned into this century’s version of former Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto behind the microphone.

The Mets’ announcer always seems to have entertaining comments — and some amusing stories during his playing days with the Cardinals, Mets and others — and definitely can chat up a good game.

Though at times, the former first baseman can be overly critical on today’s major leaguers and their execution — or there lack of — on plays.

Speaking of the Mets, who have returned to their losing ways with a current six-game skid, did you know that former Mets second baseman reject Brandon Hicks — now with the Giants — has twice as many home runs than David Wright?

Hicks, who went 4-for-43 in spring training with the Mets in 2013 before being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas, caught on with San Francisco this season, replacing the injured Marco Scutaro, and has hit eight homers. All four of Wright’s blasts this season have been hit at Citi Field in Flushing.

Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in Major League Baseball: 1. Giants; 2. Athletics; 3. Brewers; 4. Blue Jays; 5. Tigers; 6. Nationals; 7. Angels; 8. Braves; 9. Mariners; 10. Cardinals.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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