SANTA ANITA (CBSLA.com) — Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome has been given the okay to wear a nasal strip in the upcoming Belmont Stakes, after worries arose over the weekend that he may not have the opportunity to compete for history.
The equine medical director of a New York state gaming commission said that sufficient justification to prevent, or regulate, the use of a nasal breathing strip, which California Chrome wears when he races, no longer exists.
Following his win in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, California Chrome has a strong bid to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978, and 12th all time.
His ability to do so was put in sudden question on Sunday when officials of the New York Racing Association pondered whether or not to allow the colt to wear the nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Some horses use a nasal strip to assist in breathing, not unlike some humans.
After the NYRA seemed initially apprehensive to approve the nasal strip, California Chrome has been given the green light to use it, following ideas that it may give a horse an unfair advantage on the race track.
“There’s nothing out there I’m familiar with that says that this piece of equipment is performance-enhancing,” equine surgeon Keith Latson said.
The colt’s owners suggest the strip, called Flair, is used for horses to recover following a race.
“What they do is they actually help the horse cool down after the race by keeping the nasal passages open,” co-owner Steve Coburn said.
The nasal strip is promoted as being beneficial for training, conditioning and competition.
Chrome’s trainer, Art Sherman, raised the possibility that the colt may not compete in the Belmont Stakes, which is the final prize waiting before he can claim the Triple Crown, if he were not allowed to wear the nasal strip.
“It got to be the point where it was as simple as just the trainer, Art Sherman, calling and requesting an equipment change, which, this morning, I heard they allowed,” veterinarian Scott Meyer said. “When I hear ‘performance-enhancing’ I think of an animal or a human being able to exceed above their potential, where this just allows them to reach their potential.”