When the 12-horse field takes off this Saturday for the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes, neither Always Dreaming nor Cloud Computing will be in the mix.
That marks the first time that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners, respectively, will miss the Belmont Stakes since 2010. But despite the lack of Triple Crown drama, this year’s final leg from Belmont Park in New York State should still provide race fans with two-and-a-half minutes of thrilling action.
The online sportsbook Bovada certainly thinks so, and with only one day to go before the big race, no less than four horses are offering odds of 6 to 1 or better.
The narrow favorite on the board is Irish War Cry (+350), a three-year old colt with four wins in his last five races entering the Kentucky Derby in May. A disappointing 10th place finish on the wet track led trainer H. Graham Motion and jockey Ravij Maragh to sit Irish War Cry for the Preakness Stakes, so he should be well-rested and ready to go at Belmont.
Trailing close behind according to Bovada is Epicharis (+400), who hasn’t raced since a second place showing at the UAE Derby in late March. The oddsmakers don’t seem to be shying away from the Japanese-owned Epicharis, even as the horse is being closely monitored by New York Racing Association (NYRA) officials and veterinarians right up until race day.
On Friday, the NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations Martin Panza told the Daily Racing Form that Wednesday’s occurrence of lameness in Epicharis’ right foot has remained under constant supervision since:
“He appeared fine this morning. He’s walked with a rider up on his back and they’re happy with the way he’s progressing. He’s not going to come out, they’re going to work on him this afternoon with ice.
They feel confident they can make the race tomorrow, but they’re still going to monitor the horse. Obviously, the horse comes first and if there’s any problems, then they’ll reevaluate.”
Next up based on the Bovada odds is Lookin at Lee (+500), who finished 2 ¾ lengths behind as runner-up in the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Corey Lanerie then led Lookin at Lee to a fourth place run in the Preakness Stakes, and that drop-off may have prompted trainer Steve Asmussen to swap him out for Irad Ortiz Jr.
Whomever holds the reins on Saturday should have a quality horse underneath though, as Lookin at Lee has put up fourth, second, and third place showings over his last three races.
The last of the closely bunched contenders is Tapwrit (+600), who will be racing for the first time since a sixth-place performance in the Kentucky Derby.
Tapwrit’s trainer Todd Pletcher may have been sad to see his Triple Crown dreams cut short after Always Dreaming flamed out of the Preakness Stakes, but as he told America’s Best Racing ahead of the big day in Belmont, racing in his home base should provide an added edge:
“Any time you are at your home base, it gives you a bit of an advantage. I don’t know if the mile and a half suits our training style or what, but it seems like it’s been good for us.”
Coverage of the Belmont Stakes will be provided by NBC throughout race day, with post time scheduled for 6:37 p.m. ET. The latest odds for the 12-horse field in the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes can be found below:
2017 Belmont Stakes Winner Odds at Bovada
|Pole Position||Horse (Jockey)||Belmont Stakes Odds|
|1||Twisted Tom (Javier Castellano)||+2000|
|2||Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz)||+600|
|3||Gormley (Victor Espinoza)||+800|
|4||J Boys Echo (Robby Albarado)||+1500|
|5||Hollywood Handsome (Florent Geroux)||+3000|
|6||Lookin at Lee (Irad Ortiz Jr.)||+500|
|7||Irish War Cry (Ravij Maragh)||+350|
|8||Senior Investment (Channing Hill)||+1200|
|9||Meantime (Mike Smith)||+1500|
|10||Multiplier (Joel Rosario)||+1500|
|11||Epicharis (Christophe Lemaire)||+400|
|12||Patch (John Velazquez)||+1200|