May 19 (Bloomberg) -- California Chrome will be allowed to wear a nasal strip at the Belmont Stakes in three weeks, ending concern that the colt might skip his bid to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
A three-person panel unanimously agreed today to allow the use of equine nasal strips at all of the New York Racing Association’s tracks, effective immediately. Rules previously stated any equipment worn by a horse or jockey must be approved by the panel of stewards.
Art Sherman, the horse’s trainer, contacted the stewards yesterday requesting permission to use the strips, which California Chrome has worn in his previous six races, all wins. Sherman had previously hinted that California Chrome might not race if the rule weren’t changed.
“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,” Scott Palmer, New York Gambling Commission equine medical director, told the stewards.
California Chrome two days ago won the Preakness Stakes by a length and a half, claiming the second of three race victories needed for the Triple Crown. The 3-year-old chestnut colt won the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths on May 3.
California Chrome’s absence at Belmont on June 7 would probably have affected attendance and on-site sales. Two years ago, after I’ll Have Another was scratched a day before making a run for the Triple Crown, the Belmont crowd was 28 percent under NYRA’s initial expectations before the horse’s withdrawal.
Tickets for this year’s Belmont Stakes are listed on the resale market for an average of $407.94, a 48 percent jump from the morning before the Preakness, according to online aggregator TiqIQ. The cheapest ticket is listed at $25, more than eight times higher than the $3 get-in price at last year’s race, when no Triple Crown was possible.
Nasal strips, also worn by human athletes, are said to assist with breathing. I’ll Have Another wore nasal strips in his wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, according to ESPN. Officials informed his trainer before his injury that the colt wouldn’t have been allowed to wear them at the Belmont, the network said.
NYRA operates racing at Belmont, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs. The stewards are comprised of a representative of NYRA, the New York State Gambling Commission and the Jockey Club.
In the 35 years since Affirmed won the sport’s most recent Triple Crown, 12 other horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness without winning at Belmont. California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn said he expects his horse to avoid a similar fate.
“I don’t mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant because I’ve said this a hundred times if I’ve said it once,” Coburn said at a news conference two days ago. “When I saw this colt, when I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big.”
California Chrome is a 5-7 favorite to win the Triple Crown, according to online sports book Bovada.lv. That means a bettor must risk $140 to make $100 in profit.
(An earlier versio nof this story corrected the spelling of the New York Racing Association’s name.)
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