ELMONT, N.Y. — California Chrome got permission from New York racing officials to wear nasal strips when he runs in the Belmont Stakes.
He wore them in winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness after one of his owners decided to try them.
Now others are getting into the act.
Breathe Right representatives will be at Belmont Park today passing out 50,000 of its nasal strips to adults. Humans use the strips to help them breathe easier while sleeping. Some horses use them to open their nasal passages while running.
Breathe Right is encouraging fans to wear the strips during the race and pose for selfies to post on social media.
At Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., where California Chrome has run, the track will give fans free souvenir nasal strips today. The strips are purple with word "Chrome" on the front.
TRUE BELIEVER: Medal Count's trainer, Dale Romans, came into the Derby thinking he had the best horse. He left with an eighth-place finish and respect for California Chrome. "Yeah it changed. I said it two minutes after he hit the wire at the Derby. I was dead wrong. He's a great horse," Romans said Friday. "He came in perfectly prepared. Lived up to his reputation. He was getting a lot more hype than he deserved, and I was wrong. He's the horse to beat. But go back in history, there's been a lot of them. They just didn't get it done. It's tough. If he was running against the field that Secretariat ran against in the Belmont, he'd be a triple crown winner. Just give it to him today."
Big money: The New York Racing Association always has been at the mercy of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The owners and operators of Belmont Park could always count on a large crowd every time a Triple Crown was on the line in the Belmont, but attendance dwindled when it wasn't. Now the NYRA has made it more attractive: Belmont Park will award $8 million in purses over today's 13-race card, including $1.5 million for the Belmont. It is the richest day of racing in North America aside from the Breeders' Cup.
FLASHY CHROME: California Chrome comes from modest breeding, but the colt definitely inherited some flashiness in the looks department. His face has a large blaze on it, causing the white nasal strips he wears to blend in. He also has four white socks, which some owners and trainers view as a negative. Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to the last Triple Crown in 1978, compared a horse having white feet to a light-skinned person prone to infections and skin diseases more than someone with darker skin. "That's as much why most trainers dislike having so much white," he said. "But as far as how fast they can run, it doesn't make them any faster or any slower." Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, had three white socks.
All good: Drug testing on all horses running in the Belmont has been completed. The New York State Gaming Commission said the out-of-competition blood tests all came back clean, with none testing positive for performance-enhancing substances.