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).