For the second straight year, there is no chance of a Triple Crown winner heading into the Belmont Stakes. Cloud Computing's upset win at the Preakness left Always Dreaming's Triple Crown search in the lurch and put a bit of a cloud on horse racing's third major event of the year.
The Belmont has long been seen as the truest test of brilliance on the Triple Crown run. At a mile-and-a-half, it's a big finish to the most grueling stretch of racing on the calendar.
Most horses take roughly a month off between races—even when they are running a high-octane schedule. The Belmont will be the third race in barely over a month, which has had some unfortunate consequences without a Triple Crown on the line.
Trainers for Cloud Computing and Always Dreaming have decided to hold their horses out of the third leg. The only real competitor leftover from the first two races was Classic Empire, but he had to pull out due to an abscess on his hoof.
"He's such a tough horse, he doesn't really let you know until it's really painful to him," trainer Mark Casse said, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press (h/t ABC News). "If he hadn't, he would have run in the race and probably not run as well, and then have it flare up. I'm looking toward it as a bright spot, that he showed it three days out and not the day after."
Lookin At Lee will also be the only other horse to compete in all three legs.
"He's a unique horse in how strong he is, how he takes things, how he comes out of his races, how gritty he is, how durable he is," Asmussen said, per Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form. "We realize how fortunate we are."
Lookin At Lee has also shown no signs of slowing up in the training for the event.
"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," said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen. "Steve decided [to get one work in]. He's run a lot and is very fit."
With Classic Empire out of the race, Irish War Cry has emerged as the 7-2 morning line favorite. The Wood Memorial winner will attempt to atone for his disappointing 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
"The Derby, like the Fountain of Youth, is a little bit of a head-scratcher," trainer Graham Motion said, per Mary Rampellini of Daily Racing Form. "Physically, I can't give an answer why he ran so poorly in the Fountain of Youth or the Derby, other than the fact that they were run on slightly weird tracks. Gulfstream was really deep and cuppy that day. It was dried out. Churchill was kind of the other extreme. It was kind of wet and tacky. It was just a very clingy, sticky track. Does he need a perfect track? I don't know."
Irish War Cry will set up in the No. 7 post, one spot inside Lookin At Lee, which will go off at 5-1. Epicharis, which will be racing in just his third career event and first since March, is the best hope at the outside at 4-1. Tapwrit (6-1) and Gormley (8-1) are also potential contenders.
When: Saturday, June 10
Post Time: 6:50 p.m ET
TV Info: NBC
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (app)
Belmont Post Positions Odds
1. Twisted Tom (20-1)
2. Tapwrit (6-1)
3. Gormley (8-1)
4. J Boys Echo (15-1)
5. Hollywood Handsome (30-1)
6. Lookin At Lee (5-1)
7. Irish War Cry (7-2)
8. Senior Investment (12-1)
9. Meantime (15-1)
10. Multiplier (15-1)
11. Epicharis (4-1)
12. Patch (12-1)