California Chrome might abandon his Triple Crown bid if New York officials do not allow the colt to wear a nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes, said trainer Art Sherman today. "I'd have to leave it up to the owners. I know they'll be upset." The colt has worn a nasal strip, which is meant to assist breathing, during his current six-race winning streak. No formal request has been made for the Belmont on June 7, but "the decision on whether to permit them or not will be fully evaluated," a New York State Gaming Commission spokesman said today.
At 1.5 miles, the Belmont is the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races. "I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half," Sherman said. "This guy, (co-owner) Perry Martin, he might not run if they say you can't run with a nasal strip. I don't know why they would ban you from wearing one." "I can't imagine them being that ignorant that they would do that again," says another trainer whose colt was barred by New York from using nasal strips two years ago. But if California Chrome runs, Sherman says he'll win the Triple Crown, something no horse has done since Affirmed in 1978. "I have a good feeling about it. I'm really confident," he said. "They better have their running shoes on. He's the real McCoy."