2017 Belmont Stakes: How to Watch

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The Triple Crown concludes this weekend on NBC Sports with the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN with a 6:37 p.m. post time from Belmont Park.

Watch: 2017 Belmont Stakes (Saturday at 3 p.m. ET)

For the second straight year, a different horse will win each leg of the Triple Crown, after Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing were held out of this weekend’s festivities in Elmont, NY. A host of contenders will look to seize glory in their absence, including the Japanese import Epicharis, who opened at 4-1 odds in his first race on American soil.

The air of mystery surrounding the three-year old colt has only increased this week after trainers kept Epicharis in his barn on Thursday and Friday morning with a right hoof issue. His connections insist that Epicharis is still ready to take on the Belmont, but he’s been bumped down to 12-1 odds ahead of the Triple Crown’s longest and most demanding race.

Another horse to watch will be Lookin at Lee, who is holding steady at 5-1 odds after notching top-five finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The only horse in the field to run the first two legs of the Triple Crown (after Classic Empire was scratched earlier this week), Lookin at Lee just missed a historic win at Churchill Downs, nearly overcoming 20-1 odds and finishing second behind Always Dreaming.

The Friday evening favorite is Irish War Cry at 4-1 odds and the one-eyed Patch will once again be the among the underdog at 12-1 odds.

When: 3 p.m. ET (Post Time – 6:37 p.m. ET)

Where: NBCSN, NBC, NBC Sports app

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live and the NBC Sports app

 

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.