Irish War Cry set as the betting favorite for Belmont Stakes

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Irish War Cry will be running on his home track in the $1.5-million Belmont Stakes, but the colt will also be running against history.

Irish War Cry is the +300 betting favorite to win the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The withdrawal of Classic Empire (foot abscess) and the touch-and-go situation with second favorite Epicharis (+350), who has been held out of training for three consecutive days due to lameness in his right front foot, leave Irish War Cry as a deserving favorite in a 12-horse race that has neither winner of the first two Triple Crown races.

Only one horse in the field, Meantime, has even run at the elongated oval in Elmont, New York.

The price might be on the short side for Irish War Cry, who will run from lane 7 in the 1 1/2-mile race. On top of that, only two favorites across the last two decades have won the Belmont Stakes, which certainly gives bettors incentive to look elsewhere. After all, 10 of the last 18 winners in the race had odds of +1000 (or 10-1) or higher.

Epicharis, due to his condition, might also need a steer-clear label affixed to him. The colt has not raced in more than two months. Lookin At Lee (+550) tends to drop off from the early pace and, more often than not, the Belmont is captured by a horse that takes an early lead.

The price on Senior Investment (+650) has been dropping rapidly as race day approaches. Senior Investment opened at +1200, but trainer Ken McPeek has a Belmont winner (longshot  Sarava back in 2002) on his resume. That opening price also ties Senior Investment to that trend of winners who had double-digit odds.

Tapwrit (+750), ridden by Jose Ortiz, will be coming in relatively fresh and is capable of being up with the lead pack down the stretch drive. Gormley (+1200) has drawn lane 3, one that has produced its share of winners over the years, but he seems suited to shorter tracks.

Meantime (+1400) will start in the front, but with only one graded stakes race to his credit, even this diluted Belmont field could be above his pay grade, in a matter of speaking.

The remainder of the field on the Belmont Stakes odds consists of J Boys Echo (+1600), Multiplier (+1600), Twisted Tom (+2000), Patch (+2500) and Hollywood Handsome (+3300). Patch was a non-factor in the Kentucky Derby, but has held out of the Preakness and might have the fresh legs to make a run at a top-three finish.

Of the 148 previous runnings of the Belmont Stakes, 62 have been won by the betting favorite (or 42 per cent).

 

Trainer Jerry Bozzo, 97, gets win at Gulfstream Park

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Until Jerry Bozzo, no trainer had ever won a thoroughbred race at the age of 96.

And now, make it 97.

Bozzo bettered his own mark Saturday, when Gusty Wind prevailed in the fifth race at Gulfstream Park by nearly four lengths in a mild upset. Gusty Wind, with Luca Panici aboard, returned $14.80 for the win.

“It’s very gratifying. I wish I could have been there in the winner’s circle,” Bozzo, who watched the race on his computer at home, told Gulfstream Park officials afterward. “That would have pumped me up even more.”

Bozzo became the oldest trainer to win a race on June 3, 2017, when Cotton Tooyah won at Gulfstream for the then-96-year-old. Before that, the oldest trainer to win a race was Noble Threewitt, who was 95 when Threeatonce won a maiden race at Santa Anita in 2006.

Bozzo, born Oct. 25, 1920, is a retired aeronautical engineer, industrialist and World War II veteran. He graduated from Carnegie Tech, which is now called Carnegie Mellon, and MIT. He has been training and breeding thoroughbreds in South Florida for nearly 50 years, and talked to Panici on Friday night to discuss strategy for Saturday.

“Good for him,” Panici said. “He is a man with an amazing history.”

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.