California Chrome's nasal strip OK for Triple Crown bid at Belmont Stakes

BALTIMORE - California Chrome has gotten approval to wear a nasal strip during the Belmont Stakes, keeping alive the horse's chance to become just the sport's 12th Triple Crown winner.

Sources within the California Chrome camp told ESPN's Jeannine Edwards on Monday that New York Racing Association steward Steve Lewandowski said the horse would be allowed to wear the strip during the 1½-mile race on June 7. It's the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races.

Trainer Art Sherman had suggested that California Chrome might not race at the Belmont without the strip, which we wore during victories in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

On Sunday, New York Racing Association officials said that assistant trainer Alan Sherman would have to make a formal request for permission to use the strip.

Among the gaming commission's rules governing Belmont Park is one that states: Only equipment specifically approved by the stewards shall be worn or carried by a jockey or a horse in a race. The rulebook for Belmont Park that establishes race conditions does not specifically mention nasal strips.

California Chrome as worn a nasal strip during his current six-race winning streak after co-owner Perry Martin wanted to try it. Sherman is based in California and said he wasn't aware that using one in New York might be a problem.

Some horses, like humans, wear nasal strips to assist breathing. The colt wears the strip only during races, not training.

"I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half," Sherman said. "Anytime you can have a good air passage, that means a lot for these thoroughbreds."

A horse hasn't won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Since then, 12 horses have won the first two legs and failed to complete the sweep in the Belmont.

"I have a good feeling about it. I'm really confident," he said. "They better have their running shoes on. I don't care how many fresh shooters they have. He's the real McCoy."

The Belmont Stakes is shaping up as a possible 11-horse race, including two newcomers to the Triple Crown trail: Commissioner, sixth in the Arkansas Derby; and Tonalist, the Peter Pan Stakes winner.

Other probables include the second- through fifth-place finishers in the Kentucky Derby: Commanding Curve, Danza, Wicked Strong and Samraat. Intense Holiday, 12th in the Derby, is on the list.

   Three Preakness runners could return: Ride On Curlin (second), Social Inclusion (third) and Kid Cruz (eighth).

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