California Chrome, the horse that has entertained the world through a media craze, will be faced with a new challenge that could make an even bigger mark in history after the 146th Belmont Stakes this afternoon.
If he wins the mile and a half race, he would be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. In total, 11 horses have won the Triple Crown.
California Chrome’s two wins, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, have not only attracted racing fans, but controversy as well.
Art Sherman, California Chrome’s trainer, requested that the horse be allowed to wear a nasal strip in today’s race. The nasal strip controversy has been the talk of the industry for the past few weeks as it has always been banned until now.
Nasal strips were originally banned by the New York Racing Commission due to worries of “performance enhancing quality.” According to a statement issued May 19 by New York State Gaming Commission, NYRA and The Jockey Club, stewards unanimously voted to approve the use of the nasal strips for horses that run at New York racetracks.
Scott E. Palmer, the New York State Gaming Commission Equine Medical Director, explained in a CNN article that the nasal strips are not health hazards and do not add to the performance of the horse during a race.
These equine nasal strips were created by a company called Flair to help open up the nasal passage and increase air flow while also decreasing the chance of pulmonary bleeding. California Chrome has worn the strips in six races and will be permitted to wear the strip in Saturday’s race.
Those that watched the Kentucky Derby on May 3 watched California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza take the win over Commanding Curve. California Chrome started the race strong keeping up with competition like Vicar’s In Trouble and Uncle Sigh.
Following the initial victory, California Chrome moved on to the Preakness Stakes in Maryland to take home another win and gain his eligibility for the Triple Crown.
Some see this race as the make or break for California Chrome, after reviewing previous Triple Crown winners.
In total, he will face 10 competitors at the Belmont Stakes in New York. If he wins, he’d be the first horse to defeat 10 competitors for the Triple Crown. All previous winners faced seven other entries.
California Chrome will have a No. 2 post, giving him an advantage of being to the inside of the track. This will allow Espinoza to determine speed.
The 146th Belmont Stakes will run at 3:30 this afternoon on NBC and NBC Sports Network channels.