The 2017 Belmont Stakes will see a new champion crowned at Belmont Park in New York on Saturday, when some of the thoroughbred elite will go up against one another in the final leg of this year's Triple Crown.
No runner can win the Triple Crown in 2017, and neither Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming nor Preakness Stakes victor Cloud Computing will take part in the third leg of the series.
That opens the field up tremendously as we prepare to announce a new champion in what's already been an entertaining and open race season in the three-year-old extravaganza.
Classic Empire, who ran in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, returns for a third bite at the cherry, although the favourites haven't coped too well at this venue in recent years.
Read on for a preview of The Run for the Carnations, complete with post time and a breakdown of how you can watch the action. The draw for this year's post positions will be conducted on Wednesday.
Date: Saturday, June 10
Time: 6:37 p.m. ET/11:37 p.m. BST (subject to change)
Venue: Belmont Park, Elmont, New York
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.)
TV Info: NBC (U.S.)
The Breeders' Cup is perhaps the only day of American horse racing that boasts more entertainment value than the Belmont Stakes, which makes its return on Saturday for what will be its 149th edition.
Classic Empire is the firm favourite coming into the meet, as reported by Mike Dempsey of OddsShark, and Norman Casse, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, posted evidence the colt has been practicing hard of late:
Norman W Casse @casseracingnc
Classic Empire loves to sleep 😴 🐴 https://t.co/DL4lXxCJv52017-5-28 13:09:03
With Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing both out of the running for the Belmont Stakes, however, the path is carved open wider than it was before, giving a string of underdogs chances to claim top spot.
Post position is likely to be an influential factor with some of the favourites taken out, and Horse Racing Nation analyst Matt Shifman has spoken of Tapwrit as a potential contender for the crown:
Despite encountering heavy resistance in the Kentucky Derby, Tapwrit nevertheless ran to sixth and showed off his talents as a pure runner, meaning a favourable post position could give him the chance needed to excel at Belmont Park.
That being said, analyst Joel Cunningham has predicted this to be a tight and tetchy Belmont Stakes with little in the way of star performances, meaning Classic Empire may not have the run to victory he's seeking:
With no Triple Crown up for grabs, the Belmont Stakes will differ greatly from the first two legs in that the margins of victory are likely to be so much smaller.
What it's lacking in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality, however, as some of the most talented young runners in the sport prepare for a show in New York on Saturday.