Triple Crown hopeful sports Minnesota-invented nasal strips for - KMSP-TV

Triple Crown hopeful sports Minnesota-invented nasal strips for horses

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When all is said and done, California Chrome could win the Triple Crown by a nose no matter how close the finish is -- and that's because the horse will wear the nasal strip once frowned upon by New York racing officials.

So, what kind of advantage do the nasal strips provide? Horse trainers tell Fox 9 News it's a simple training tool to build endurance.

It's not uncommon to see football players with "breath right" nasal strips to keep their airways open on the field, and the nasal strips California Chrome was seen sporting work in a similar way -- just on a much bigger scale.

The nasal strips were invented by Minnesota veterinarians with deep roots in the racing community at places like Canterbury Park.

"They get placed about an inch and a half above the top of their nostril," trainer Liz Lund explained.

The strips were first introduced at the Breeder's Cup 15 years ago, and Lund has been using them for years.

"They're recognizable -- especially to us eventers," she said.

By studying horses on a treadmill, the inventors realized something -- horses only breathe through their noses.

"Our hypothesis at the time when we saw that tissue movement -- that tissue collapse -- was that if we could support that tissue, we should be able to reduce the resistance to breathing," Dr. Ed Blach DVM, of Flair Equine Nasal Strip, explained.

According to Lund, the strips help her horses compete and train through strenuous conditions by keeping their nostrils open to allow better airflow.

"So, these springs actually help to hold this away so they don't have to work as hard to breathe," Lund said. "You want them to be able to breathe better, and if they can breathe better when they're working harder, they're going to increase their stamina."

California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness wearing a distinctive nasal strip, and it could be a big help on Belmont's grueling 1.5-mile track -- but until now, New York was the only place that hadn't approved what many now consider a piece of training equipment.

"It's fully transparent," Blach said. "Everybody can see that a horse is using the product. Everybody has the same opportunity to use the product, so we don't believe it provides any unfair advantage."

The owners of California Chrome had threatened to pull out of the race if the 3-year-old was barred from using the nasal strip. Now, the colt could become the first to win the Triple Crown in more than 35 years.

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