It was announced Monday that Belmont would give the ruling of a potential rule change that would allow California Chrome to wear a nasal strip, like he has worn in races since fall of 2013, at the Belmont in the final leg of the Triple Crown. The ruling was handed over to stewards to decide, which landed the New York regulators to allow Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, to wear his nasal strip in the 146th Belmont Stakes on June 7.
This ruling comes just a two years after I’ll Have Another was denied the same request back in 2012. I’ll Have Another, also a winner of both the Derby and Preakness, did not run at the Belmont when he officially was ruled out of the race due to a tendon injury, ending his hopes of a Triple Crown. Many believed that the nasal strips may have played a role in his scratch.
“I recommend that the stewards at state-based thoroughbred racetracks discontinue their ban on equine nasal strips,” Scott E. Palmer, the equine medical director for the New York State Gaming Commission said in a letter sent to racing officials. “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.”
California Chrome has been wearing a nasal strip since Perry Martin, one of his owners, suggested he try one after he ran sixth last fall in a stakes race. Since that running California Chrome has ran all of his 2014 races with a nasal strip, but more importantly with a new jockey in Victor Espinoza. After Espinoza rode Chrome for the first time he told his trainer “Please put me on more of those”, and his wish came true, since Espinoza has ran on Chrome and done so winning his last 6 major starts, including the Preakness and Derby.
The change in the ruling shows that Horse Racing is aware of their recent upswing in fans. They are aware of their growth in popularity, and this moves shows that they intend to change with the times.
“There is no longer sufficient justification to prevent or regulate their use,” Palmer said.
Horse Racing was once the heart of the country. The sport captivated the country and gave hope to the people surrounding it. The sport changed with Seabiscuit when the three legs of the triple crown began to open up the infield for common people to attend. It was this switch that spread the sport of horse racing even further and helped adopt to the changing times of the current depression. This again is one of those moments.
While it is still to be seen if the nasal strip is even a story to follow, but the fact that horse racing is changing a rule for a horse is proof alone of the need for a triple crown.
California Chrome was the clear favorite heading into the Preakness, but a throat blister and a cough rendered many thinking that Preakness new entry Social Inclusion could take home the crown. Inclusion ended up third in the Preakness, and Chrome finished with a second straight victory.
This nasal strip is again a hurdle he has leaped and has eased the minds of those waiting for their Triple Crown winner.
While the Preakness will now be nothing more to a party to some, the chance at a triple crown could quickly change those minds. Hats off to Belmont for not making the same mistake that it potentially could have made with I’ll Have Another; realizing the power of the sport that this horse holds. Chrome and Belmont hold the key to not only to the horse racing fans and community, but to the future of the sport. When Frank Sinatra’s New York plays on June 7th, all eyes will be again on Chrome. He has his nasal strip, now he needs his third leg of the crown to save horse racing, and to go down as one of the greatest horse who ever lived.