The 149th running of the Belmont Stakes is set to take place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, on Saturday.
The third jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes can carry as much, if not more, anticipation as the two races that precede it, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. That's especially true if one horse has won two out of three en route to a Triple Crown title.
However, this year, some of the luster has faded ahead of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival as a result of the lineup.
Neither Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming nor Preakness winner Cloud Computing were entered into the Belmont Stakes this year.
That made Preakness runner-up Cloud Empire the presumed favorite at Belmont Park, but the race lost another big name on Wednesday when the colt was pulled due to a foot abscess, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of BloodHorse:
Alicia Wincze Hughes @BH_AHughes
Champion Classic Empire will not run in Belmont Stakes due to abscess in right front, Mark Casse says. (Cont)2017-6-7 12:11:30
Now, Irish War Cry looks to be the favorite heading into Saturday's race.
Below you'll find the post positions and the rest of the early odds for all 12 horses competing in the Belmont Stakes, per the official race website.
Belmont Stakes Post Positions, Odds and Predictions
No. 1: Twisted Tom (20-1) - 10th
No. 2: Tapwrit (6-1) - 3rd
No. 3: Gormley (8-1) - 6th
No. 4: J Boys Echo (15-1) - 7th
No. 5: Hollywood Handsome (30-1) - 12th
No. 6: Lookin At Lee (5-1) - 1st
No. 7: Irish War Cry (7-2) - 2nd
No. 8: Senior Investment (12-1) - 11th
No. 9: Meantime (15-1) - 9th
No. 10: Multiplier (15-1) - 8th
No. 11: Epicharis (4-1) - 4th
No. 12: Patch (12-1) - 5th
Irish War Cry was in third place a mile into the Kentucky Derby before he fell back to 10th in the final two furlongs, where he finished 16.5 lengths behind eventual champion Always Dreaming.
Trainer Graham Motion was so discouraged with the loss that he didn't enter Irish War Cry in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness.
But now, Motion feels that Irish War Cry is ready to try his hand at another Triple Crown race.
"(The Belmont Stakes) is a classic. It only comes around once in a horse's lifetime, and I think he deserves another chance," Motion said, per the NYRA Press Office (via the Paulick Report).
.@GrahamMotion confirms G2 Wood Memorial winner, Irish War Cry for the G1 @BelmontStakes! Read more >> https://t.co/Nost6xavlr https://t.co/U7nHWvOHLS2017-6-4 17:19:08
The chestnut colt won four out of his six starts, including the Holy Bull and Wood Memorial leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Another highly favored horse in the Belmont Stakes is Lookin At Lee, who also ran the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
And, as it turns out, Lookin At Lee is in fact the only horse this year to run in all three Triple Crown races.
The colt finished second in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.
"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," trainer Steve Asmussen said, per Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form.