by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor
Race horse California Chrome is now allowed to wear his nasal breathing strips at the Belmont Stakes held on June 7.
While Belmont policy usually does not allow the strips, the New York Gaming Commission, the New York Racing Association, and the Jockeys Club all agreed to end this policy so California Chrome can compete.
Before the ban was lifted, California Chrome’s trainer stated that the horse may not run without his strips. They allow him to breath more freely, and reduce the risk of bleeding in the lungs due to heavy exertion.
“I am so happy California Chrome is racing at the Belmont Stakes! I remember rooting for him at the Kentucky Derby and it has been so fun seeing him win his way to the top! I can’t wait to watch the race on Saturday,” said senior Kelsey Rudowitz.
The horse will race at Belmont for one of the rarest accomplishments in racing – the Triple Crown. California Chrome has won six races with his nasal strips, including first-place wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the other two parts of the Triple Crown.
The manufacturer of the strips claims the horses who wear them use five to eight percent less energy at their top speed, but the New York State Gaming Commission Equine Medical Director, Scott Palmer, said there is no evidence they offer a competitive advantage.
The strips are much like the ones worn by humans who have breathing trouble, and cost only 10 dollars. They keep the horse’s airways from getting too small when performing a strenuous amount of exercise.
If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, he will be the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. Of the 38 horses who have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, only 11 have gone on to win Belmont and the Triple Crown.
“The Belmont Stakes separates the men from the boys because it is over a mile in distance. I understand completely as to why California Chrome’s trainer wants him to wear the nasal strips, because of the amount of exertion the horse will have to put forth. I will be rooting for him, though. It would be amazing to see another horse win the Triple Crown,” said junior Sydney Wilhelme.
The three-year-old colt won the Preakness on May 17 by bursting at the homestretch, which caused a lot of tears of joy and excitement.
“It is an awesome feeling to be able to have a horse like California Chrome,” said jockey Victor Espinoza. “It was just a crazy race. … I got more tired mentally than physically riding him. But it worked out well, and he’s just an amazing horse.”
California Chrome was born to a mare named Love the Chase, who was purchased for $8,000. His mother was bred to the stallion Lucky Pulpit for $2,000.
Their offspring had earned California Chrome’s owners more than $2.3 million in prize money before the Preakness, with wins at the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes and California Cup Derby.
Do you think California Chrome will win the Triple Crown? Why or why not?