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California Chrome to run in Belmont as NY stewards lift nasal strips ban

As might be expected, the Belmont Park ruling about nasal strips brought about a sudden rash of controversy in the horse racing world, not to mention among avid horse people, bettors and fans. It reached a crescendo when it became possible that the current contender for the Triple Crown, California Chrome, was likely to pull out of the Belmont. Here it is May 20, less than three weeks before the running of the third Triple Crown race, and the NY stewards have unanimously changed the nasal strips ruling.

California Chrome #3 with nasal breathing strips after winning the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course
California Chrome #3 with nasal breathing strips after winning the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Preakness winner California Chrome #3 with a nasal breathing strips
Preakness winner California Chrome #3 with a nasal breathing stripsPatrick Smith/Getty Images

The three stewards represent the New York State Gaming Commission, the Jockey Club and the New York Racing Association (NYRA). Expert analysis was sought from equine medical director Scott E. Palmer, VDM, New York State Gaming Commission.

These authorities have collectively revised this rule at the park that annually hosts the third and crowning race of the prestigious Triple Crown to permit “the use of equine nasal strips for all horses running at racetracks of The New York Racing Association, Inc (NYRA). This ruling becomes effective immediately.

June 7, 2014 is the date for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes. California Chrome will, therefore, be permitted to use strips when he competes. Chrome has always run with nasal strips during his races.

It is important for the public to know Dr. Palmer’s recommendation:

I recommend that the stewards at State-based Thoroughbred racetracks discontinue their ban on equine nasal strips. 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.

Dr. Palmer gives more detail and can be read in my source document in the Paulick Report.

The stewards ultimately took the advice of Dr. Palmer. The use of nasal strips has been approved pursuant to NYS Gaming Commission Rule 4033.8 which states,

Only equipment specifically approved by the stewards shall be worn or carried by a jockey or a horse in a race.

It should be noted that nasal strips will not enhance performance in a horse any more than a tongue tie. This New York state rule could have been changed previously, but the proverbial “if it’s not broke, don’t bother” made a change unnecessary. With the importance of the Triple Crown looming in three weeks, action became swift.

This nasal strip ruling is now under consideration at Finger Lakes Race Track as well.