With ‘Nasalgate’ Over, Time to Focus on What’s Important

by | 05.19.2014 | 11:36am
California Chrome

Thankfully, the three stewards in New York – one employed by The Jockey Club, one by the New York Racing Association, one by the New York State Gaming Commission – have saved horseracing from further national embarrassment over whether Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome can wear a Flair nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes June 7. They have issued a joint statement saying all horses running at NYRA tracks may use them.

This issue, dubbed “Nasalgate” by some, wasn't just about a little strip of paper with glue that a number of trainers put on a horse's nose because they think it helps oxygen intake or possibly alleviate internal hemorrhage. It's about fiefdoms, territorial rights, a belief that “we” know more about how to regulate a sport than “you” do.

It's not just nasal strips, and it's not just New York. In Florida it's allowing a corticosteroid to be administered on race-day or keeping drug testing labs from using the latest technology. In Louisiana it's permitting higher levels of certain therapeutic medications than other states allow. In Arkansas it's putting your heels in the dirt and not participating in national initiatives like the Equine Injury Database. In California it's having different rules pertaining to claiming a horse than elsewhere. This crazy patchwork of state regulations and house rules might have been fine in the day that horses traveled by railcar and there was no such thing as interstate betting. It's a different game today.

Horseplayers want uniformity, whether it's medication rules, equipment rules, wagering rules. So do owners and trainers.

This one was easy. Unlike two years ago, when New York stewards could bully Doug O'Neill (trainer of Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another) on the nasal strip issue because of the medication controversy swirling around him, the trainer and owners of California Chrome could have made this a line-in-the-sand issue, as silly as that sounds. On Sunday, the morning after winning the Preakness, trainer Art Sherman actually brought up the idea of not running California Chrome in the Belmont Stakes if nasal strips are banned.

Now that this 24 hours of nasal nonsense is over, let's move on to more important issues.

  • idavis


  • Richard C

    ….and it would be fitting for CC to capture the Belmont Stakes — by a nose.

    • nu-fan

      Yeah, except that Victor Espinoza will have to pull up the reins and let another horse catch up to him at the finish line.

  • Rachel

    Actually, I could see CC’s owners being independent enough to not run him…I mean, anyone who turns down a seven figure offer is capable of standing firm on anything they believe in.

    • Susan Crane-Sundell

      I think Chromie’s Connections withdrawing him from The Belmont was highly plausible. They are more committed to their principles than to biding by a nonsensical, discretionary ruling. Thankfully, logic prevailed and we don’t have to find out.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        I think you’re right. Those ol’ boys would easily tell the NYRA to pound salt and take California Chrome home.

    • vinceNYC

      PLEASE……………short of the horse dying , he is running

      • Barbara Bowen

        …in the Los Al Derby;-)

      • Michelle Jernigan Williams

        Amen, Sherman announced yesterday before all this hype started he was shipping the colt to Belmont. Glad they approved the strip…but it would not have kept him from running if they said no….or winning.

    • Vudu

      A myth is created.

  • cal gal

    good publicity stunt….

    • nu-fan

      Have to wonder, don’t you? Did Belmont get a lot of free press? Yes. Of course, initially, negative publicity. But, now, they were able to demonstrate their wisdom with their logical ruling. And, during this time, newspapers, national TV, etc.–all free advertising (publicity). However, from what I hear, there are few/no seats left there for the Belmont; maybe, they will find some way to squeeze more in and make even more money.

  • Ann Maree

    Everyone coming through the gate at Belmont Park should have a larger-than-life version of the nasal strip to wave around. Great outcome to what could have been a real embarrassment. Let the games begin! Go Chrome! Go Victor!

  • diastu in tempe

    I’d like to see Chrome fans all show up at the track/s wearing nasal strip as the latest fashion accessory!

    • Beach

      LOVE that idea… :)

  • jackmw

    Social media (i.e. Paulick Report) got this done. NYRA realized almost immediately that this was a no-win situation and rather than be combatant they took the proper course of action. Score one for the “New” NYRA!!!! Now on to what promises to be one of the greatest days in the sport.

    • Susan Crane-Sundell

      Yes there was a Change dot Org petition written and circulated by 7pm EST last night. When I last checked at midnight last evening it had already gathered 1,604 signatures in just a few hours. On column that I regularly read posted 384 comments in three hours and people were picking up the phone and emailing NYRA all afternoon! Ray kept us informed all day with Tweets and commentary and this sight was all abuzz too. My Twittersphere went berserk! From New York to California with a few choice comments from across the pond, people were educating each other to issues from lasix, to tongue straps, to ear muffs to Statute 4033.8 and most importantly–to the front and center nasal strip! It was a great day for racing education and conversation-even if the catalyst was a little strip of tape!

    • south florida tom

      It was a no win situation for NYRA. It’s a perfect example of who has the leverage, and the product that people want to see.

    • Barbara Bowen

      I have no doubt they would have pointed Chrome to Los Al Derby instead of Belmont if the nasal strip wasn’t approved. Just hope Perry Martin shows up to enjoy his horse and knows that NYRA will treat him like a King. (He should be glad he is unlikely to ever have a horse in, much less win, the Kentucky Derby again because the upside is never having to deal with CDI again.)

      • nu-fan

        I would imagine that Mr. Martin will show up. I’m betting that he knows that Mr. Coburn shouldn’t have to shoulder all of the news media by himself. This must be very stressful for all of them. Need to share that work load. And, I have to agree with you. These two are not going to put up with nonsense and, as one PR reader expressed, these gentlemen operate with their personal principles rather than chasing the money. With the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, in hand, I would think they would have been quite content in passing up the Belmont. Luckily for all, things worked out relatively well.

      • C Hogan

        Barbara you are 100% correct. If the NYRA said no nasal strips there is no doubt that the connections of CC would have went to the LA Derby. They will do best for this horse whatever. Turned down 6 million and BLASTED Churchill Downs with the TRUTH. No way he would have run because these two guys are for their horse period.

    • Bellwether

      It was ALL about the “MONEY HONEY”…Art & his Connections laid it right on the line…social media & the PR…Ha Ha Ha!!!….That’s to funny…

    • Vudu

      Maybe an article here & there brings attention.
      Wait: Are you telling me the NYRA reads posts & Twitter?

  • vinceNYC

    and what was never an issue in the first place is put to rest…..

  • Les Instone

    I think everyone connected to Cal Chrome and all his fans should wear a Breathe Right nasal strip on Belmont Day to show their unified support.

  • Andy

    Of course they now allow nasal strips…. Because the connections threatened to not run and the NYRA saw $$$$$$$ flying out the door…either way if the owners pulled out or if NYRA said “no”… Nobody wins

  • pr mofo

    I hope they all wear nasal strips.

    • Vudu

      I am tongue-tied over this.

  • Hoops and Horses

    The problem NYRA had to weigh in my view was this:

    There is an older faction of big bettors, mostly over 65 who remember the race fixing scandal of 1974-’75 and in my view likely are now screaming FIX because in their mind, it’s the same as what happened 40 years ago (and I’m quite familiar with these kind of patrons who go way back and it’s a scandal that has badly hampered NYRA for years, even to this day). These bettors might very well have threatened to boycott and stop betting on NYRA altogether because of this, as many of them seem to want to think its still 1974 and not 2014.

    Hopefully, most of these people will realize that a nasal strip is no different than any other piece of EQUIPMENT that helps the horse.

  • Peyton Charles Lasiter


  • M D

    Without CC, the handle will be wayyyyy down. I don’t think either way, CC will win triple crown. 3 races in 5 weeks at G1 level requires a wonderhorse. This is a special horse, but not a wonder horse. He will be overbet. CC was exhausted after this race. Now in 3 weeks he has to race 1.5 miles versus some solid, rested horses. Bet against.

    • Robbie Osment

      The only way this horse gets beat ,is if Victor pushes the button too soon !!!!!

      • Michael Castellano

        Yes, many riders who do not regularly ride at Belmont can “push the button too soon” in a mile and a half race. We’ve seen a few Triple Crowns lost that way. As long as your close, you must wait, and wait some more. Most horses today really can’t handle the distance that well, so it makes more sense to wait rather that try to steal the race. However, you might see that from horses like Social Inclusion, who’s best race might be at a mile and was practically strangled down in the last two. I’d consider letting him run from the beginning and see how far he goes that way.

  • biggar

    Knock it off. Facts have no place in this narrative.

  • Barbara Bowen

    I think he has run A LOT less horses than those two so that is something if true. Proof that personality trumps facts. Kind of like an election;-)

    • BreakingDeadMen

      He used to run a lot of horses. If he’s not as familiar of a name as Baffert and Lukas, that is because you probably don’t follow Bay Area racing. In the last few years he has downsized, for several reasons. He is now into his 70’s, Bay Meadows has closed, and his son Steve is building his barn. Again, which of his violations are particularly scandalous to you? For that matter, do you view Lukas and Baffert as crooks? They are glib, certainly, and maybe they work their horses harder than they have to. But this whole thread seems vindictive.

      • Barbara Bowen

        I know who he is and knew his name from Northern California but no, I didn’t pay attention to that circuit. My point was that through the media lens O’Neill was hammered two years ago, and Sherman is everyone’s grandpappy this year. You also call out an excellent point as I was thinking of where Lukas and Baffert land in the list of top money winning trainers with violations. Sherman wouldn’t be in that list. That is why I said “if true.” I couldn’t get that original link to work for me yesterday and wasn’t that interested. I don’t have a problem with how Baffert works his horses. Yes they are glib, and I have even less of a problem with that. Nor do I have any problem at all with Sherman. I altogether like the perfectly imperfect Chrome Crew, period. Especially the horse.

  • biggar

    I might have to take that back. Your link doesn’t work for me.

  • Stuart H.

    I agree 100 percent with your take, Ray. Unlike Layden over at SI who simply does not get what the only thing to be embarrassed about–its not the strip, its the dysfunction and lack of uniform rules in racing and especially in the 3 legs of the most visible races to the American public. The T/C series. I even had a non racing friend tell me how idiotic it was that CC could wear nasal strips in Maryland and KY but possibly not NY. He asked, what is the big deal about nasal strips? Don’t many of these trainers dope these horses up and they break down early, and so on…why ban “nasal strips?” Its like using a hatchet to kill a fly. Luckily, the NYRA did the right thing and consulted an expert and nipped this nonsense in the bud. This was leading the news stories Monday AM!

  • Stuart H.

    Calling out CDI for the treatment of horse connections on national TV, drawing a line in the sand over this ridiculous rule…to the big bad NYRA…sure the guy is a bit of a drunk but Sherman is a great story; so perhaps this horse really is “America’s Horse” or whatever it is the owner keeps going on and on about. I am no fan of CDI or the NYRA. So, I say, “well done!”

    • John McEvoy

      Who are you accusing of being “a bit of a drunk?” Please clarify.

      • Stuart H.

        I meant to say he was a bit drunk, not a bit of a drunk.

        The owner who said he had a few drinks but it appeared to me he was a bit tipsy but I like the guy. He even admitted he had been drinking several…it was obvious. Maybe that is why he had the guts to call out cdi?

        • John McEvoy

          Actually, I have NOT been paying attention to the “bit of a drunk” or the “bit drunk” scene you mention so I don’t know who you are referring to. Please clarify Mr. Stuart H (for anonymous).

          • Stuart H.

            The owner had been drinking and had a few when he called CDI out for not taking care of the connections and said they could learn a few things from Pimlico. It was obvious he had been drinking. You did not see this on TV Mr. John McEvoy?

          • John McEvoy

            Mr. Stuart “WHO” is asking! When you cast aspersions, have the guts to back them up.

          • Stuart H.


            I have no idea where you are going with this but your continued posts on this are getting old.

            You are very confused…I said the owner was drinking when he called CDI out. It was an observation. No aspersion at all. He had a drink in his hand when they went to him in the stands with a camera shot. Big deal. Drop it.

          • John McEvoy

            You didn’t say the unnamed owner was drinking. You said he was “a bit of a drunk.” Big difference, whether you realize it or not.

          • Stuart H.

            Yes I did and then I corrected what I said above 5 days ago See post above:

            “f you need me to explain who this is then you have not been paying attention. But I meant to say he was a bit drunk, not a bit of a drunk.

            The owner who said he had a few drinks but it appeared to me he was a bit tipsy but I like the guy. He even admitted he had been drinking several…it was obvious. Maybe that is why he had the guts to call out cdi?”

            See, “I meant to say he was a bit drunk, not a bit of a drunk.” is what I said 5 days ago.

            So your point is moot, John. Drop it. You are flailing. You are attempting to hold me to words that I amended and corrected. Get a life and move on please.

  • Vudu

    Good idea: address the drug testing.
    But that’s so negative.

    Time to concentrate on what’s important:
    Will any of the horses have their manes braided, or tails dyed?

  • Vudu

    I think Belmont knew what was important!

    Souvenir $2 CC win tickets are racetrack GOLD.

    • nu-fan

      Especially since many of us will never cash them but keep them as mementos. I’ve got my two and will add a third to the group on June 7.

    • MyBigRed

      I wish I could get one :) I still have my memorabilia from Secretariat. My family accuses me of loving Secretariat more than them….NO COMMENT…

  • Furley

    I would like your point of view of my thinking from earlier…..So Art Sherman and the owners didnt know in advance that NY does not allow nasal strips?? Even after 2012 I’ll have another was denied. They went into this run for the triple crown knowing full well that if they were to run in NY they couldn’t use the nasal strips. If i knew a state didnt allow lasix and i wanted to run a race there, should they change the rules or should i be prepared to run without lasix……

    • Barbara Bowen

      Lasix is regulated by state, Flair strips allowed in NY at steward’s discretion. Ask and you shall receive when Martin Panza is your pal and your horse is worth millions in dollars and good will to NYRA and the sport of racing.

    • Tulsa Terry

      They knew NYRA bans nasal strips. Thats why Los Alamitos Derby was scheduled at CCs home track should they skip the Belmont.

  • Michael Castellano

    By a nose is very possible for CC, given the forever distance of the Belmont. There is sure to be an attempt to steal the race, and if no one goes with that horse, who knows. Victor has to stay close but not too close if they are going fast. I remember years ago when Ronny Franklin make a very premature move and killed his chances for a Triple Crown with Spectacular Bid, who was 1 – 5. It was 1979. Since then a couple of triple chances were lost by a nose. They rarely ride at this distance, and riders often move too soon, and occasionally too late. Big stretch runs also seen rare in the Belmont. You seem to be better off staying close. It does not favor out of the clouds closers as much as you might think. It’s a jockey’s race most of the time without a stand out.

  • Teresa Bossow

    The amount of money on the line for the Belmont certainly makes a nasal strip a non issue. The stewards couldn’t ever consider denying the request. especially since harness approved them in NY awhile ago. how could they take the chance CC wouldn’t come when 25-30 million in profit is on the line?

  • betterthannothing

    Inesperado (FR) was a multiple graded stakes winner with earnings of $688,580 mostly under Bobby Frankel. The beautiful grey horse was a turf specialist and raced consistently in Graded and non-graded stakes, winning multiple Grade II and III stakes.

    Inesperado returned from a 14 month lay-off as a $80,000 claimer, then was briefly trained by Ron McAnally then was claimed for $40,000 by Round Table
    Stable on August 5, 2006 and trained by Craig Lewis, racing mostly within the $40,000-$35,000 claiming range in Southern California.

    Round Table Stable shipped Inesperado “up North” to Art Sherman to face much weaker competition. Sherman started him three times in Northern California, once for $8,000 claiming and twice for $4,000 on dirt.

    Despite winning $688,580 for previous owners in 37 starts, despite numerous red flags, no one saved the honest, courageous Inesperado from dying as a $4,000 claimer.

    Inesperado (FR) was catastrophically injured on May 18, 2007, exactly seven years and one day before Sherman won the
    Preakness Stakes in magnificent glory.

  • Boat

    did you know a horse died on wed 5/21 at Belmont wearing the nasal strip. The first horse allowed to wear the nasal strip in NY

  • Denise

    How come no one is bringing the horse that dropped dead at Belmont wearing the first nasal strip ???????????????????

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