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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Strip decision favors California Chrome by a nose

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Published:   |   Updated: May 19, 2014 at 10:24 PM

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End of crisis.

The world’s largest nasal strip lives.

And with it our Triple Crown hopeful.

Yes, folks, it’s that time of every few years: horse racing matters.

This time began on Saturday when California Chrome, 3, won the Preakness.

For the next three weeks, until the Belmont Stakes, horse racing matters as it hardly ever does, and more than it should, unless you’re holding an exacta ticket.

The star of the show doesn’t have a speaking part, which is just as well — the strong, silent type, just what we need in these days of big-mouth superstars. Here’s a top-flight athlete we the people can get behind. They should bring shovels just the same.

True, our hero didn’t ask to be one. He has no say in the matter. I’m reminded of that whenever a thoroughbred dies during a race, which happens more than we think. Some idiot always says, “He died doing what he loved.” Yes, if I was a horse, I’d definitely pick running until my leg breaks or my heart bursts while being whipped by a tiny guy in front of a hundred thousand gamblers and drunks. We need to remember that.

Let’s embrace the glorious innocence of our equine headliners.

And: crisis averted. It sounded like real trouble when Chrome’s trainer mentioned that the Big Guy might not race in the Belmont unless he was allowed to wear a nasal strip (also not his call), same as he’d worn in taking the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

There was concern that killjoy New York race officials would nix the strip for the Belmont. The creeps.

I didn’t care if California Chrome wanted to wear a pest strip. I didn’t care if he wanted to wear a wedding dress.

Mama, don’t take my California Chrome away.

New York agreed. Chrome’s nasal strip, which looks as big as a landing strip, will fight another day.

Maybe he’ll win by a nose.

I’m itching for a Triple Crown winner, the first in 35 years. I’ve been pulling for Triple Crown winners since I was 8 and I sat down on a merry-go-round and my horse was one of those that never moved, no up, no down, just stood there. To this day, I always check my ride when I get on merry-go-rounds. No unicorns. Horses. And I want a racer. The worst is when it’s packed and you have to sit on … the bench. Oh, the shame.

California Chrome has touched our sporting nerve, as Triple Crown hopefuls always do. And he has struck a blow for nasal strips everywhere, on the fields as we play, in the bedrooms as we sleep, wherever nasals must be stripped.

Now the countdown begins. The horse of the hour needs to be careful. He needs to get his work in, eat right and avoid the Kardashians. I like his chances. He won’t be closing night clubs or doing 90 in a 55-mph zone with a gun on the passenger seat. If he does drugs, well, IT WASN’T HIS IDEA. And he won’t get mixed up with the media, answering questions — no, not even when Anderson Cooper 360 asks him about Donald Sterling.

One more win and we get American sports history and California Chrome gets to spend the rest of his days grazing, napping and being a daddy.

It’s a sweet deal for everybody.

I’m so pumped up I can hardly breathe.

Where’s my nasal strip?

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