Look closely at the white blaze on California Chrome’s nose during Saturday’s Belmont Stakes and you’ll see a patch about the size of a hand.
This horse wears a nasal strip.
California Chrome’s owners, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, started him on the nasal strip six races ago. Their horse, coincidentally or otherwise, captured all six races.
Alan Sherman, California Chrome’s assistant trainer, chuckles at the extra equipment.
“I don’t know if it’s done anything for the horse, to be honest,” Sherman said.
Does he expect the strips to become popular?
“No,” Sherman said.
The Flair Equine Nasal Strips, which sell for about $12, vaguely resemble shields. Invented by two veterinarians, the company claims the product naturally enhances performance. That includes “reduced airway resistance” as part of reduced fatigue and improved respiratory health.
The strip caused a brief stir last month when Art Sherman, Alan’s father and California Chrome’s trainer, said that the horse may not run in the Belmont if he couldn’t use the strip. The New York Racing Assn., which turned down a request to let I’ll Have Another use the strip at the Belmont in 2012, quickly clarified that California Chrome was welcome, nasal strips and all.
Inspired by California Chrome’s experience, another company that makes nasal strips -- these ones are for humans -- plans to distribute 50,000 of them to Belmont spectators Saturday.
Alan Sherman, though, speaks about California Chrome’s strips as a sideshow. No other horses at the family’s Sherman Racing Stables in Los Alamitos wear them.
“The owners asked us to put them on,” Sherman said, “so we did.”