Bad nose day as California Chrome faces Triple Crown woe
California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, races to the finishline to win the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland - by Molly Riley
Art Sherman raised the possibility Sunday, telling USA Today that if officials did not allow nasal strips, owners of the chestnut colt might pass on the chance to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the US flat racing treble by skipping the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 7.
"I would have to leave it up to the owners but I know they will be upset," Sherman told the newspaper in a report on its website.
California Chrome has won six races in a row, including the Preakness on Saturday at Pimlico, since co-owner Perry Martin suggested the horse run with nasal strips, used to stretch the nose passages wider and allow greater air intake.
"This guy, Perry Martin, he might not run if they say you can't run with a nasal strip," Sherman said. "He's very funny about things like that."
Even Sherman said the idea was "very questionable" but just the spectre of doubt was enough to prompt a statement from the New York State Gaming Commission on the issue of nasal strips even as television commercials were already starting to promote the Triple Crown prospects at Belmont, still three weeks away.
"Neither NYSGC nor New York Racing Association Stewards have received request to use nasal strips in 6/7 Belmont Stakes," the commission said.
"If request to use nasal strips is made, decision on whether to permit or not will be evaluated & determined by the Stewards.
"Only equipment specifically approved by stewards shall be worn or carried by jockey or horse in a race."
While the commission has given no indication they would reject the request this year, they did so two years ago when I'll Have Another had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and asked to use nasal strips in the Belmont Stakes. The horse suffered a leg injury on the eve of the race and didn't run anyway.
"I don't know why they would ban you from using one, but we will cross that bridge when we get there I guess," said Sherman.
Martin did not attend the Preakness, with California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn reportedly saying that was because Martin was unhappy with hospitality at the Derby.
Sherman made a point of praising Preakness hospitality compared to that of the Derby in post-race comments.
"(Martin) could say, 'I don't understand why they won't let me run (with the strip at Belmont). Maybe they don't want us there,'" Sherman said.
"All over the country they let you use them. Why would New York not?"