June 8, 2023

Epicharis Scratches From Belmont, Leaving Field of 11

Epicharis won the inaugural Japan Road to the Derby in the Hyacinth, now the anchor of an expanded three-race points series (Photo by Katsumi Saito)

Epicharis, the Japan-based horse who bypassed the Kentucky Derby (G1) to point toward the Belmont Stakes (G1), was scratched from the “Test of the Champion” on Saturday morning.

His defection leaves a field of 11 for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. Irish War Cry was the 4-to-1 favorite through early betting with Epicharis at 12-to-1, which represents about 6.5% of the total pool. This suggests Irish War Cry could be about 3-to-1 or 7-to-2 when Epicharis’s money is redistributed (assuming it’s bet and not pocketed).

Epicharis did not train on the racetrack either Thursday or Friday after receiving treatment for lameness. His connections were bullish on still making the Belmont Stakes, but the scratch came Saturday morning.

“This was a minor issue, but the team has done a great job to care for the horse over the past few days and, while we are greatly disappointed for the fans of Epicharis, we have to face the fact that he is not able to compete today,” said Kiyoshi Hagiwara, Epichararis’ trainer, via Japan Racing Association translator Soshi Inoue.

“The horse was close to being able to compete but we ran out of time. We’d like to thank the team of veterinarians and staff for their hard work. We look forward to getting Epicharis home and back to the racetrack very soon,” Hagiwara added.

Japan will still offer separate-pool wagering on the Belmont Stakes.