Photo Credit: Colorado State University

Ever wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea? Some people wake up and say "nope, not a great idea," and go back to sleep. But equine veterinarian Dr. Ed Blach decided to run with an idea that he had - and it's been getting some national attention. 

"I sat up in bed at 3 in the morning, and I had this idea," said Blach, a Colorado State University veterinary alumnus and resident of Monument, Colo. "Why hasn’t anyone developed a nasal strip for horses?"

This idea born at 3 am is being worn by Triple Crown contender and racing phenom California Chrome. The nasal strip is patterned after a human version that deters snoring. 

The idea that came to Blach 17 years ago is in horse racing's limelight as California Chrome preps to storm Belmont Stakes on June 7 as the event favorite. The colt – wearing an adhesive strip – may be the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years, having earlier aced the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

The FLAIR strips, which Blach co-invented, have grabbed international attention in part because they were first banned, and then approved on May 19 for use at Belmont Stakes by the New York Racing Association.

Blach said the strips made sense to him and his business partner, Jim Chiapetta, a fellow veterinarian. They wanted to create a strip that would help keep nasal passages open during rigorous equine performance, making breathing easier and relieving stress on the lungs, particularly important because horses breathe only through their nostrils.

The two developed the product for horses, and then licensed their technology to the company that made Breathe Right strips for humans.

So this weekend when watching the Belmont Stakes, take a look at California Chrome and his nasal strip - and know that it has a green-and-gold connection!