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California Chrome’s Nasal Strip: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Victor Espinoza celebrates atop California Chrome #3 after winning the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Victor Espinoza celebrates atop California Chrome #3 after winning the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Why is the California Chrome’s nasal strip an issue? The colt won the first two legs of the Triple Crown while wearing a strip to help him breath more easily.

New York state’s racing association hadn’t previously approved the use of nasal strips, creating a major stumbling block as the horse entered next month’s Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown. But a ruling Monday means the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion will be able to wear the strip after all.

Here’s what you need to Know:


1. The Nasal Strip Needed to Get Approved by the New York Racing Association (NYRA)

California Chrome dons his nasal strip during the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes 2014. (Getty)

California Chrome dons his nasal strip during the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes 2014. (Getty)

The equine medical director for the New York State Gaming Commission, Scott E. Palmer, told state stewards to abandon the ban on 4-by-6-inch adhesive patch. These patches bear resemblance to the Breathe Right strips worn by N.F.L. players that were designed to aid breathing by decreasing upper-airway nasal resistance.

The three racing association regulators unanimously agreed on Monday to allow the use of nasal strips for all horses competing at New York Racing Association racetracks.


2. New York Is One of the Only States That Had Restricted Nasal Strips

Authorities stand at attention before the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes. (Getty)

Authorities stand at attention before the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes. (Getty)

The strip is legal in almost every state in the U.S. and California Chrome has been wearing one since Perry Martin, one of his owners, suggested he try one after the colt finished sixth last fall in a stakes race. California Chrome has won six straight races since the white patch went on his white blaze.

California, Kentucky and Maryland are some of the states have no regulations restricting the use of nasal strips, which have been around in horse racing for 15 years. In New York, the strips are allowed in harness racing but not for thoroughbreds.


3. It Has Been an Issue in the Past

I'll Have Another races at Pimlico Race Track in 2012 with a nasal strip. (Getty)

I’ll Have Another races at Pimlico Race Track in 2012 with a nasal strip. (Getty)

I’ll Have Another wore the strip in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2012, but was told by New York regulators that the strip would be prohibited for the Belmont. Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another’s trainer, agreed to have the colt race without it before I’ll Have Another was scratched on the night before due to a leg injury, deeming the decision irrelevant.

In his letter, Palmer understood that there had been ample studies on the nasal strip that proved the strip did not give horses a competitive advantage. Palmer told the New York Times:

There is no longer sufficient justification to prevent or regulate their use.”


4. He Has Won 6 Straight Races Since Using It

California Chrome wins the Preakness 2014. (Getty)

California Chrome wins the Preakness 2014. (Getty)

California Chrome has won six straight races since owner, Perry Martin suggested to trainer Art Sherman that he try the nasal strip on California Chrome. The races include King Glorious Stakes (2013), California Cup Derby (2014), San Felipe Stakes (2014), Santa Anita Derby (2014), Kentucky Derby (2014), The Preakness (2014).

The colt’s trainer, Art Sherman, raised the possibility that California Chrome might not run if he could not wear the nasal strip.


5. A Horse Hasn’t Won the Triple Crown in 36 Years

Steve Cauthen of the USA on 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, at a racecourse.

Steve Cauthen of the USA on 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, at a racecourse.

If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, he’ll be the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.

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