Champion racehorse California Chrome has scored a victory at New York’s Belmont Park by a nose – or, more precisely, a nasal strip.
Racing authorities in New York have agreed to relax the ban on the use of nasal strip on racehorses, clearing the way for California to compete in the Belmont Stakes in his bid to claim the Triple Crown.
California Chrome, with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes under his belt, will race in a bid to become the first horse to claim the coveted three wins in a season since Affirmed in 1978.
A joint statement from the New York State Gaming Commission, New York Racing Association and The Jockey Club confirmed yesterday that the three stewards at Belmont Park had unanimously agreed to allow the use of equine nasal strips on tracks in the state.
The statement confirmed that California Chrome would be permitted to use the strips when he competes in the 146th Belmont Stakes on June 7.
This week, California Chrome trainer Art Sherman contacted the stewards requesting permission to use nasal strips on the horse, amid media reports the horse may not have been a starter if he was banned from wearing the strips.
The stewards sought expert analysis from the New York State Gaming Commission’s equine medical director, Scott Palmer.
Palmer recommended that stewards lift the ban.
“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,” Palmer said.
“While there is research to indicate that equine nasal strips decrease airway resistance in horses and may decrease the amount of bleeding associated with EIPH to some degree, I am unfamiliar with any research indicating that equine nasal strips enable a horse to run faster with nasal strips than without them.
“In other words, there is no evidence they have a performance enhancing effect. Equine nasal strips do not pose a welfare or safety risk to the horse. They are applied to the top of the nose and anyone can see their use prior to a race.
“If improperly applied, equine nasal strips cannot interfere with performance. In my opinion equine nasal strips fall into the same category as tongue-ties.”
The stewards considered Palmer’s advice and lifted the ban.
Racing association president and chief executive Chris Kay said: “We are extremely excited that California Chrome will be coming to Belmont Park in his quest to become thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.
“We look forward to a historic day at Belmont Park and for the great State of New York.”