UPDATED (again): Epicharis is scratched.
The defection of juvenile champion Classic Empire removes some of the Broadway lights from this version of the Belmont Stakes, but makes it no less of a wagering challenge. In fact, arguably, it makes it more of a betting challenge. If you like Irish War Cry, then read no further. While his sire (Curlin) is a plus, the farther he goes the worse his speed numbers appear (at least by Brisnet). As such, and because trainer Graham Motion initially planned to skip this race, the wagering here is that Irish War Cry wants nothing of even 10 furlongs — as his Kentucky Derby showed — much less the 12 furlongs of the so-called “Test of the Champion.” Rarely do I suggest tossing the favorite altogether, but this is one such occasion. If Irish War Cry isn’t stopping at the quarter pole to catch the Long Island train, I lose.
Race 11 | Grade I Belmont Stakes | 1 1/2 miles
2. Lookin At Lee
3. Senior Investment
4. Twisted Tom
5. Irish War Cry
Comment: Though lightly raced and eligible for non-winners of one other than, Meantime enters the Belmont with the right running style for the race and offers tremendous value at 15-1. The runner up in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont switches to the “Big Money” Mike Smith who knows how to meter speed. Epicharis is flattered by Thunder Snow’s second to Churchill in the Irish 2000 Guineas. The Belmont is a big ask off the layoff for Epicharis, but, otherwise, he’s the classiest horse in the field. Lookin At Lee is zero for eight since leaving the Ellis Park Pea Patch, but he’s only finished worse than fourth in one of those. This is a horse that likes to run, and, with the defection of Classic Empire, he’s the only entrant to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown. It’s difficult to see this one winning, but it wouldn’t be a total shock and he’s a solid choice for exotics. Senior Investment finished third in the Preakness Stakes, but that seemed to be more picking up the pieces of the moderate speed duel that showing he wants 12 panels in the Belmont. Twisted Tom has a similar style to Meantime — forwardly placed but able to have a late kick.