Let’s Discuss: California Chrome’s Loss, As Explained By Sports Psychology

A San Francisco doctor believes that California Chrome lost the Belmont due to a losing state of mind. What do you think?

Top photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Kevin R. Stone, an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation, published this article in the San Francisco Examiner on Sunday, June 22. It’s a brief article, basically proposing that California Chrome’s poor Belmont performance wasn’t chalked up to a strenuous training regimen or fatigue, but to a lack of mental preparation on the part of the horse.

While many spectators commented on California Chrome’s remarkable calmness in the paddock and gate as a sign of a prepared competitor, Stone argues that the colt’s behavior was an indicator that he was not on his mental game, displayed in his lackluster running of the race.

California Chrome making his way from the paddock to the track:

[Kevin Grace]

It’s an interesting argument to be sure, but I feel that Stone ignores a few key points in his article: he pooh-poohs the concept that a fit and well-trained racehorse could possibly be “tired after only running for about 2 minutes three times in four weeks,” and doesn’t mention the injury that tore of California Chrome’s heel as the field surged out of the starting gate.

However, mental fitness is certainly a huge part of human athletics, and no horseman can deny the importance of a horse being mentally ready to perform in any discipline whether it’s flat racing, cutting or dressage.

What do you think, Horse Nation? Is racehorse sports psychology a field on the rise? Or is Dr. Stone simply projecting his values on a totally unrelated field?



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