NEW YORK - California Chrome could be end his quest to become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years if New York officials will not allow the colt to wear a nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes.
A day after the colt won the second leg of horse racing's coveted Triple Crown, trainer Art Sherman hinted the thoroughbred might sit out the Belmont if New York racing authorities do not allow him to wear a nasal strip, CBS New Y0rk reported.
California Chrome has been sporting the strip in his last six races -- all victories -- to help with his breathing. The strip was suggested by co-owner Perry Martin.
Martin "might not run if they say you can't run with a nasal strip," Sherman told reporters. "He's very funny about things like that.
"I do think it opens up the air passage and gives that little extra oomph that he would need, especially going a mile and a half," Sherman explained. "Any time you can have a good air passage that means a lot with these thoroughbreds."
At 1.5 miles, the Belmont is the longest and most grueling of the three races in the Triple Crown.
Neither the New York State Gaming Commission nor the New York Racing Association stewards has received a request to use nasal strips in the Belmont on June 7.
"If a request to use nasal strips is made, the decision on whether to permit them or not will be fully evaluated and determined by the stewards," Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said Sunday.
Nasal strips nearly became a major issue in the 2012 Belmont Stakes when New York officials said I'll Have Another, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, could not wear a nasal strip in the Belmont. The issue became moot when I'll Have Another was scratched with a leg injury.
California Chrome won the Preakness on Saturday, beating out Ride On Curlin and Social Inclusion.
The colt also won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.
With a victory in the Belmont on June 7, California Chrome would become the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history and the first since Affirmed in 1978.