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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®

Epicharis to Belmont Stakes


Set to Ship In June 1

Japan-based Epicharis, second in the UAE Derby, is confirmed to make his North American debut in the Belmont Stakes.

Epicharis qualified for the Kentucky Derby but took a pass to allow the colt ample time to recover from participating in the UAE Derby, said trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara.

"I am very honored to participate in the Belmont Stakes," Hagiwara said. "Epicharis ran well at the UAE Derby and proved himself deserving of the Triple Crown challenge.

"When he arrived in Japan from Dubai, he was bit tired from traveling and we wanted to give him enough time, thus we had to pass on Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, though he was awarded starting gate in Kentucky Derby as the winner of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby," he said. "Now, he is completely recovered and he is doing well, so we decided to try the Belmont Stakes. He is bred to stay and, the way he races, I believe 1 1/2 miles at Belmont suits him."

The Japanese-bred colt by Gold Allure, a son of 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence, was undefeated as a 2-year-old in his homeland, winning his first three starts in Japan by a combined 25 lengths. As a 3-year-old, Epicharis ran to a three-quarter-length victory in the Hyacinth at Tokyo in February and suffered the only loss of his career with a hard-fought second to Thunder Snow in the March 25 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse.

Christophe Lemaire has been aboard for all five of Epicharis' starts and is expected to retain the mount in the Belmont.

Epicharis is poised to join Lani as the first back-to-back Japanese competitors in the Belmont. Lani was a late-closing third to Creator in the Belmont.

Epicharis is scheduled to arrive June 1 at Belmont Park, where he will complete his quarantine and isolation ahead of the race.

Epicharis' presence in the Belmont Stakes is widely expected to open the race for pari-mutuel wagering in Japan, making it the first U.S. Triple Crown race available for simulcast in the country and, following the 2016 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, only the second American stakes race ever offered for wagering in Japan.

Through an agreement reached between the New York Racing Association and the Japan Racing Association, pending final regulatory approval by the New York State Gaming Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, Japanese wagering on the Belmont Stakes will be conducted through a separate, non-comingled pool.

Post time for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. ET on June 10. The post position draw will take place June 7 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

Edited NYRA release


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