BALTIMORE (CBS/AP) – California Chrome has been approved to wear a nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes, according to New York Racing Association Secretary Martin Panza.
Thirty-six hours of controversy has finally ended, and now we can look forward to seeing the horse back in pursuit of the Triple Crown.
“Pretty much every state in America has been letting horses run with nasal strips. New York had a rule in place saying the trainer had to ask permission from the stewards. Mr. Sherman did that yesterday at 3:45,” said Panza.
Trainer Art Sherman made no threats about the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner dropping out of the race if the horse wasn’t allowed to wear the strip, but he suggested it was a possibility.
Among the Gaming Commission’s rules governing Belmont Park is one that states: Only equipment specifically approved by the stewards shall be worn or carried by a jockey or a horse in a race.
In a post on its Twitter feed, NYRA said: “We operate under the rules set forth by @NYSGamingCommission.”
California Chrome has worn a nasal strip during his current six-race winning streak after co-owner Perry Martin wanted to try it. Sherman is based in California and said he wasn’t aware that using one in New York might be a problem. He said he would talk to New York racing officials and the horse’s owners.
Some horses, like humans, wear nasal strips to assist breathing. The colt wears the strip only during races, not training.
At 1 ½ miles, the Belmont is the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races.
“I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half,” Sherman said. “Anytime you can have a good air passage, that means a lot for these thoroughbreds.”
Sherman said Martin likes to try different products and the co-owner thought a nasal strip might benefit California Chrome.
Other states allow nasal strips while racing, and even some jockeys wear them.
“It’s something nonmedical that can be beneficial to a workout or a race,” California-based trainer Doug O’Neill said by phone. “If you think your horse could use some help with their nostrils, you do it.”
Two years ago, O’Neill trained I’ll Have Another to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with the colt wearing a nasal strip. New York officials told O’Neill that his horse couldn’t wear one in the Belmont. The issue became moot when I’ll Have Another was scratched the day before the race because of a leg injury.