There won't be a Triple Crown winner in 2017, but the Belmont Stakes should still serve as an entertaining conclusion to the sport's famed three-race triumvirate when the action gets underway Saturday from Elmont, New York.
Although Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness champion Cloud Computing have opted not to compete in the mile-and-a-half spectacular, there is a wide-open field full of worthy competitors who will be champing at the bit to snatch a piece of glory.
But before we break down which horses are in the best position to snare a Belmont win, here's a rundown of when you can catch the final leg of the Triple Crown and a breakdown of how the $1.5 million purse will be paid out.
Post Time: 6:37 p.m. ET
TV: NBC (coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Race schedule: Available at the Belmont Stakes' official website
Prize Money Breakdown
- 1st Place: $800,000
- 2nd Place: $280,000
- 3rd Place: $150,000
- 4th Place: $100,000
- 5th Place: $60,000
- 6th Place: $45,000
- 7th Place: $35,000
- 8th Place: $30,000
Classic Empire fell just short of glory at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore three weeks ago, and he figured to have one final shot to capture a Triple Crown victory on Saturday.
However, Mark Casse's likely morning-line favorite was officially ruled out Wednesday due to an abscess in his right front foot, according to BloodHorse's Alicia Wincze Hughes.
As a result, the focus will shift to a starting gate full of hungry competitors in search of their first victories on the Triple Crown stage.
Lookin At Lee (+550), in particular, should garner a fair share of attention.
Although he hasn't captured a win since August 2016 at the Ellis Park Juvenile, Lookin At Lee has acquitted himself nicely during Triple Crown season, with a second-place finish at the Kentucky Derby and fourth-place showing at the Preakness.
Now eyeing a breakthrough, Lookin At Lee appears to be boasting excellent fitness entering the Belmont.
"He's been doing great; he loves the main track and came out of the Preakness in great shape. We're very pleased with him," assistant trainer Toby Sheets said, according to the Paulick Report. "Steve decided [to get one work in]. He's run a lot and is very fit."
Then there's the mystery horse, Epicharis (+350), who has run in just two races to this point in his career.
However, that small sample includes a win at February's Hyacinth Stakes and a second-place finish in March's UAE Derby.
"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 the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes," trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said, per Daily Racing Form's David Grening. "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."
One last contender to track is Senior Investment (+650), who bolted from the back of the pack down to finish third at the Preakness and raise his profile entering the Belmont.
Closing such a wide gap at the Belmont may not be as realistic since the race suits horses who can be more consistent and run at a solid pace from start to finish, but assistant trainer Jeff Odintz believes Ken McPeek's prized colt has what it takes to take a win.
"That horse can run," he said, according to Grening. "Just got to get lucky."
Odds courtesy of OddsShark and current as of Thursday, June 8.