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California Chrome can wear nasal strip at Belmont Stakes

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: California Chrome can wear nasal strip at Belmont Stakes
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If California Chrome is to make history by becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, he'll do so with a nasal strip.

Three stewards, one representing the New York State Gaming Commission, one representing NYRA and another representing The Jockey Club announced Monday it will allow the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner to wear one during the 146th Belmont Stakes on June 7.

The ruling also applies to any other horse moving forward on a NYRA racetrack.

New York State Gaming Commission Equine Medical Director Scott Palmer said in a statement:

"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.

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 story gained national attention after California Chrome's trainers said the horse might not run the Belmont if not allowed to wear a nasal strip.

Some have labeled the situation, "Nasal Gate."

Saratoga Raceway Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito was pleased with the decision. He also has used nasal strips on some of his race horses.

"You can use it in California, you can use it in Florida, you can use it in Maryland, you can use it in Kentucky," Zito said.

Many other locations allow nasal strips for horses. The strips were never banned in New York state, but needed the stewards' approval.

Zito said the decision opens doors for horse racing's future in New York.

"I think this particular horse, this particular situation has brought a good situation to New York racing," said Zito.

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