Nasal strip may keep California Chrome from Triple Crown bid

Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome celebrates winning the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico...

Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome celebrates winning the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course May 17, 2014 in Baltimore. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:14 PM ET

BALTIMORE - He is a win away from making history, but there may be a thorn in California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid.

The morning after capturing the Preakness Stakes, his 77-year-old trainer suggested that California Chrome may not compete at the Belmont Stakes if officials in New York refuse to allow the colt to wear a nasal strip which helps with his breathing.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ has worn the strip throughout his six-race win streak, which has set him up for a shot at becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

“The horse has been on a streak with a nasal strip and I don’t know why they would ban you from wearing one,” California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman said on Sunday, just 12 hours after his 1 1/2-length win over Ride On Curlin’ in the Preakness.

“We’ll have to cross that bridge when you get there, I guess. All over the country they let you wear them. Why would New York not?”

Like humans, many equine athletes use the strips to help breathing and most racing jurisdictions allow it. But two years ago at the Belmont it became an issue when Derby-Preakness champ I’ll Have Another’s connections were told he couldn’t wear the strip. The colt was eventually scratched the morning prior to the race due to injury.

Sherman didn’t flat out say California Chrome won’t run at the Belmont, but said he would discuss the issue with his owners and racing officials in New York.

“We might have a little controversy here,” Sherman said outside California Chrome’s stall at Pimlico. “It might be an issue.”

Even if California Chrome does race - and is not allowed to use the strip - there will be questions of his ability to perform to his peak ability given his performance while using it over the impressive winning streak.

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