BALTIMORE – California Chrome will be allowed to wear a nasal strip at the Belmont Stakes on June 7, keeping alive his chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.
Three stewards at Belmont Park on Monday unanimously approved the nasal strips for all horses running at racetracks of the New York Racing Association, effective immediately.
"Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated," New York State Gaming Commission Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer wrote in his analysis of the strips. He added that strips are applied to the top of the nose and anyone can see their use prior to a race.
"If improperly applied, equine nasal strips cannot interfere with performance. In my opinion equine nasal strips fall into the same category as tongue-ties," Palmer wrote.
While there is research that indicates nasal strips decrease airway resistance in horses and may decrease the amount of bleeding associated with exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), there is no evidence that the strips enable a horse to run faster, Palmer wrote.
A day earlier, Sherman's father, 77-year-old California Chrome trainer Art Sherman, said that if the horses wasn't allowed to run with a nasal strip – designed to enhance air flow in the nasal passages -- his owners might not want to run him at all in the Belmont, never mind the hugeness of the race for the horse and the racing industry.
"We put in an official request (Sunday to New York officials) to get the nasal strip, and it looks like we're going to be able to use it," Sherman said outside California Chrome' barn at Pimlico Race Course.
"It's looking that way, but we'll see when I get up there."
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Sherman said the plan is for California Chrome to leave here by van at 6 a.m. Tuesday for the trip to New York.
California Chrome is 6-0 since he started wearing the nasal strips in races only, not for training. "It just opens up their nasal passage a little bit, but like the human ones (nasal strips)."