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Here is the latest look at Epicharis, one of the contenders for the 2017 Belmont Stakes to be run at Belmont Park.
Owner: U. Carrot Farm
Trainer: Kiyoshi Hagiwara
Pedigree: Gold Allure – Stapes Mitsuko, by Carnegie
Last Race Result: 2nd Place, UAE Derby, 3/25/17
The top Japanese three-year old, Epicharis has a legitimate shot of being a player at the Belmont Stakes. His connections have been pointing him to this race for the last two and a half months, and the big moment is finally here when we get to see him run against the top American three-year olds.
How to line this horse? It's always tough. It was tough to call Epicharis one of the favorites in a 16-horse field at the UAE Derby, but he lived up to his billing in a tight race with Thunder Snow. Sure, Epicharis was second best that day, but that was enough to ultimately make him the second favorite at the Belmont Stakes. This price of +450 might be about as good as it gets, especially if this field thins out a little bit.
We've seen this story play out with Epicharis and his likes before. He's very likely the best three-year old on the other side of the pond, he comes to the United States and ultimately struggles in his first race against this degree of competition. Rare is the pony who can come across the pond and race with the biggest American thoroughbreds. In fairness, Americans typically have problems racing overseas as well. It's just a real challenge for any animal to be taken away from his home, shipped halfway across the world and then asked to train at a new setting and race in a new setting against all new horses.
The good news about Epicharis? He's already done so once in his career. He qualified for the Kentucky Derby by winning the Hyacinth Stakes in Tokyo. From there, his connections shipped him to Dubai to race in the UAE Derby. The results were generally good even though Epicharis didn't win. He led the race at the halfway mark, paced the colts on the way home, fought off one challenge from Thunder Snow and ultimately succumbed to a second challenge.
We really wish we had a chance to see Thunder Snow race in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, he was pulled up after just a few strides after some wild jumping around, and we'll never know if he would have had a shot at the Run for the Roses or not.
The one thing we do know about these foreign horses is that they're generally bred for distance racing. Epicharis' first race was at 1 1/8 miles in Japan, and his finish at the UAE Derby at 1 3/16 miles suggests that tacking out the eight 5/16 miles won't be a problem at the Belmont Stakes.
We also know that Epicharis is a colt who can run for days at the head of a field. He stalked his way to win at the Hyacinth, but he's far more comfortable out front. There shouldn't be much in the way of contenders for the lead spots in the first quarter mile of this race, and what we could be left with is a legitimate 1-mile duel between arguably the best three-year old in America (Classic Empire) and the best three-year old in the rest of the world (Epicharis).
If that's the case, we'll take our chances at this price of +450. There are others who surely could factor into the Belmont Stakes, but there has been enough talk about Epicharis to make us believe there's actually something here with him.
With a maximum of 16 horses accepted into the Belmont Stakes field, there is a significant vetting process to qualify the horses among this group of three-year olds. Horses which finished in the top four at either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes are guaranteed entry into the Belmont Stakes, while the other starters are placed in the field based on earnings in graded stakes races and non-restricted sweepstakes races.
Belmont Stakes post positions and morning line odds for all horses in the field, will be updated until the day of the race.
|Belmont Stakes Entries||American Odds||Fractional Odds|
|Lookin at Lee||+380||19/5|
|Conquest Mo Money||+1500||15/1|
|Time To Travel||+3500||35/1|
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