JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- California Chrome, a very fast racehorse that sprinted into national fame after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, has perhaps the most famous nostrils in the country right now.
As the horse closes in on the final leg of the Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes, controversy surrounded his owners and trainers as they threatened to pull the horse out of the race if he wasn't allowed to wear his breathing strips while running.
Yes, breathing strips.
The exact same thing humans wear to prevent snoring and to help with congestion, only larger.
The trainers say it helps with Chrome's recovery after a race, but it was otherwise not approved by the New York Gaming Commission and had to be voted on.
Well, the horse will now get to wear his nasal strips, but some still say it could be a performance enhancer during the run.
Carolyn LaRose, owner of LaRose Performance Horses in Baldwin, says it could give the horse a slight edge in the race.
"I'm from the old school though," she said. "I think all the horses should have the same equipment and be on a level playing field."
While she says it may not give a major edge, she wonders why horses in the past have not been allowed to wear the strips when they requested it.
"It's not a drug," she said. "But at the same time it could be considered performance enhancing."
She says she has used the strips on horses she's trained in the past, especially jumpers and barrel racers, and that it is a big help in horse recovery.
"It's all about getting oxygen to the red blood cells," she said. "Running like that takes a major toll on horses and some need the extra help."
Still, she wonders if in a situation with this much history on the line, should really come down to a nose -- literally.
"It's a very sensitive issue, and it can really go anyway."
There have only been 11 Triple Crown winners, the last winner was Affirmed back in 1978.
You can watch the Belmont Stakes, and see California Chrome and his nasal strips Saturday, June 7 on NBC.