Breath With Ease, California Chrome Back on Track for Triple Crown

California Chrome

Race fans all over can breath with a little more ease as the race for the Triple Crown is back on track. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) stewards held a vote Monday about the nasal strips that California Chrome wore during the colt’s last six races, including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. NYRA stewards have not allowed the use of these strips, however backed off on the ban and unanimously approved the use of equine nasal strips at all New York racetracks.

Dr. Scott Palmer, the equine medical director for the state’s gaming commission instructed the stewards that the ban should be lifted on the breathing aid adhesive patch. This led to the NYRA stewards to meet to decide the fate of the potential Triple Crown colt who started wearing the strips on a whim by one of his owners, Perry Martin. After wearing the nasal patch, similar to stop snoring aids and the breath strips many athletes wear, California Chrome started to win.

It is unknown if the strips aided in the colts’s commanding victory in the Kentucky Derby or the length and a half victory in this weekends Preakness. With the success of the colt since the nasal strips were added to his nose, trainer Art Sherman stated that if New York disallowed the use of the strips the owners would be upset and could potentially pull the horse out of the Belmont Stakes. Sherman contacted the stewards Sunday with a formal request to allow his horse to wear the nasal strips for the June 7 leg of the Triple Crown.

California Chrome
Nasal patch at the center of the controversy

The strips are placed over the bridge of the horse’s nose and allow the athlete to breath with more ease. The strips help to hold open the nasal passages allowing for more air to enter the horse’s lungs as they exert themselves during a race or training. More air delivers more oxygen to the lungs, which developers of the strips state promote optimum respiratory health of the horse. This could allow a horse to run a longer distance and not get tired or worn out as quickly. With the mile and a half Belmont Stakes, more oxygen filling the lungs of California Chrome may be the difference between falling to the back of the pack or staying on track to win the Triple Crown.

While New York does not have a rule specifically stating that the nose strips were not allowed, the decision to ban the strips has always come from the stewards. New York steward that governs each race track have allowed the strips in harness racing only. The stewards have always used the rule that allowed them to determine what equipment jockeys and horses are allowed to wear or use during a race. In 2012, Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another also wore the nasal strips. NYRA stewards informed the owner of I’ll Have Another that the nasal strips would not be permitted at the Belmont Stakes. There was no appeal from that decision due to the horse pulling out of the race the day before with a leg injury.

The decision to immediately allow the use of the nasal strips will be cause for California Chrome and his owners to breath with a little more ease. The euphoria after the colt won the Preakness was quickly replaced with the news from Sherman that the owners may back the horse out of the Belmont Stakes over the nasal strips is now over. Now the colt that is the product of a $8000 mare and $2,500 stallion is back on track to run towards history and a chance to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.

Commentary by Carl Auer

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