By Steve Almasy and Ray Sanchez
(CNN) – California Chrome has worn nasal strips during victories in the first two events of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, but he might have to compete at the Belmont Stakes without one, if he competes at all.
Trainer Art Sherman said California Chrome, who won the May 3 Kentucky Derby and Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, might be held out of the race if the 3-year-old horse is not allowed to wear the strips across his nose that help improve breathing.
When asked about a reported New York rule against it, Sherman said, “The horse has been on a six-race winning streak with nasal strips. I don’t know why they would ban you from wearing one, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there, I guess.”
The New York State Gaming Commission, which regulates horse racing in the state, said the decision would be up to officials at the state’s racing association.
“Neither the New York State Gaming Commission nor the stewards at the New York Racing Association have received a request to use nasal strips in the Belmont Stakes,” the commission said in a written statement. “If a request to use nasal strips is made, the decision on whether to permit them or not will be fully evaluated and determined by the stewards.”
In 2012, I’ll Have Another also won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but his owners were told the nasal strips he wore during races were prohibited in New York, several media outlets reported. The issue was never officially resolved because the horse was unable to run in the Belmont due to a career-ending leg injury,
Sherman said the decision would be up to co-owner Perry Martin.
“He might not run if they say you can’t run with a nasal strip. He’s very funny about things like that,” Sherman said.
Nasal strips keep a horse’s airway from becoming smaller during strenuous activity, the Flair Equine Nasal Strips website says.
“By reducing airway resistance during exercise, Flair strips help prevent fatigue related injuries, help protect the lungs from injury and bleeding and promote optimal athletic performance,” the site says.
If California Chrome wins the June 7 Belmont Stakes, he’ll be the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to achieve the ultimate feat in thoroughbred racing.