Things California Chrome captured before his attempt at the Triple Crown Saturday:
Yes, the chestnut colt did the unthinkable Saturday. No, not become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed took it in 1978. Those hopes were dashed as he finished in a dead heat for fourth. Chrome, whose equine nasal strip was a hot topic after the Preakness, did more than that: He made nasal strips cool.
"Once he won in the Preakness, a lot of buzz started," said Mandy Hennebry, senior brand manager at Breathe Right, the (human) nasal strip company that sponsored California Chrome this week. "We thought, you know what? It's not always that we get an opportunity to have people talking about nasal strips."
The opportunity was too on the nose to pass up, Hennebry said, and the result was something of an unlikely sight on Saturday. Sniffing interest, Breathe Right constructed a campaign in just two weeks, putting together a TV spot and distributing 50,000 nasal strips to Belmont attendees.
Nasal strips are generally used to ease nasal congestion and facilitate sleep. Yesterday, among California Chrome's fans, they were festive. Add to that a plush mascot, Stuffy, who roamed Belmont amid the floppy hats, delicate sundresses, patterned bow ties and seersucker suits. He is a human-sized, nasal-strip-wearing schnoz.
"It's so much fun," Hennebry said. "It really, really is."
But, really now, can California Chrome's popularity actually extend to the unlikeliest of accessories, the nasal strip?
Well, who nose?