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Originally published May 19, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Page modified May 20, 2014 at 8:53 PM

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California Chrome can breathe easy as nasal strip approved for Belmont


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Horse racing

California Chrome can wear nasal strip at Belmont

California Chrome beat out an idiosyncratic racing rule — by a nose.

The colt is back on track for his Triple Crown try after an only-in-New York equipment ban appeared ready to put a kink in his Triple Crown try at the Belmont Stakes.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner was cleared to wear the nasal strip he has worn all through a six-race winning streak that has set him up for a chance at horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown.

New York racetracks have a rule prohibiting any equipment not specifically approved by stewards, and nasal strips were not on their list. A statement from the New York Racing Association and the state’s Gaming Commission on Monday said the track’s three stewards unanimously agreed to lift the ban.

The strip worn by California Chrome during his six-race winning streak is thought to assist airflow through the nostrils — something that should come in handy June 7 for Belmont’s grueling 1½-mile run.

“I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half,” trainer Art Sherman said. “Any time you can have a good air passage that means a lot for these thoroughbreds.”

Other states allow equine nasal strips while racing, and even some jockeys wear them, as do humans in other sports.

Golf

No timetable for Tiger’s return to competition

In his first news conference since back surgery in March, Tiger Woods said Monday that, before the operation, the pain was so great he simply could not function. And he had doubts that his career could continue.

He is better now, but he still cannot come close to answering the question the golf world is asking: When will he be back?

“Forget about playing golf at the highest level. I couldn’t get out of bed,” Woods said Monday at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, site of the Quicken Loans National tournament that Woods will host for the benefit of his foundation starting June 26. “I was certainly doubtful at that point. What’s it going to feel like? Am I going to be pain free? Am I going to be able to actually do this again, where I can get out of bed, and go out there and play with my kids and play golf? All those things were up in the air.”

The microdiscectomy March 31 gives him hope, but he has no timetable for a return.

“I think that’s been kind of the realization to all of this, that there is no date,” he said. It seems highly unlikely he will be able to play in the event he hosts, or in the U.S. Open that begins June 12 in Pinehurst, N.C.

Soccer

Manchester United hires Van Gaal as manager

Manchester United confirmed on Monday that they have appointed Dutchman Louis Van Gaal as their new manager on a three-year contract.

The 62-year-old will take over at Old Trafford once he has completed his role as Netherlands manager at this summer’s World Cup finals.

In a statement on their website, United said Ryan Giggs, who led the side when David Moyes was sacked with four games to go, will be Van Gaal’s assistant manager.

Men’s college basketball

Oregon State hires Tinkle to replace Robinson

Wayne Tinkle, who coached the past eight seasons at Montana, was hired as Oregon State’s coach. Tinkle took the Grizzlies to the NCAA tournament three times in his tenure with the team.

The 48-year-old replaces Craig Robinson, brother-in-law of President Barack Obama, after he was fired earlier this month after six seasons with the Beavers where he failed to make the NCAA tournament.

ELSEWHERE

• Connecticut is close to finalizing a five-year contract with men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie that will pay him close to $3 million a year, sources told ESPN.

Lance Armstrong has been ordered to give sworn videotaped testimony next month about using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France seven times.

Armstrong has been sued by a Texas company seeking the return of about $12 million in performance bonuses. An arbitration panel has issued subpoenas for testimony from Armstrong on June 12 and his longtime business manager Bill Stapleton on June 9.

• France clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship with a 6-2 victory over Denmark. Finland kept alive its hopes of advancing by beating Kazakhstan 4-3 in Minsk, Belarus. In the late matches, host Belarus reached the quarterfinals for the third time by edging Latvia 3-1 and defending champion Sweden beat Italy 5-1.

Alex Ovechkin will miss at least one game at the world championship after suffering a right leg injury in a collision during Russia’s game against Germany.

Kurt Busch wrecked during practice at for the Indianapolis 500, putting him in a backup car for the open-wheel portion of his historic double this weekend. He also plans to race in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600.

Busch spun coming out of the second turn and slammed hard into the outside wall.

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