Belmont Park Notes 5.25.17
by NYRA Press Office
- Epicharis breezes, begins quarantine process in Japan for G1 Belmont
- Songbird confirmed for G1 Ogden Phipps
- Memorial Day at Belmont Park
- 'Toast the Turn' packages available for Belmont Stakes Racing Festival
U. Carrot Farm's UAE Derby runner-up Epicharis is one step closer to his bid in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 10, emerging from his Wednesday breeze in good order and entering isolation on Thursday in Japan, according to trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara.
The Japanese-bred colt by Gold Allure, a son of the legendary 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence, was moved on Thursday to the quarantine barn at the JRA Miho Training Center to begin his weeklong isolation in Japan before shipping to North America. Epicharis is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on June 1, a roughly 24-hour trip from Miho, located in the Ibaraki Prefecture.
On Wednesday, Epicharis worked five furlongs over the uphill woodchip course in 1:05.2 under assistant trainer Masaaki Minamida at the Miho Training Center. The horse was caught in splits of 12.6 seconds for the first eighth of a mile, 36.8 for three-eighths, and 50.7 for a half-mile, Hagiwara said.
"I am pleased with his work," Hagiwara said. "He looks fine and he moved sharply. He has been doing well. Considering the long trip to Belmont via Anchorage and Chicago, I will give him one more timed work in Japan at the same course on Sunday and the last one will be at Belmont on Tuesday or Wednesday the week of the race."
Epicharis was undefeated as a 2-year-old in his homeland, winning his first three starts in Japan by a combined 25 lengths. As a 3-year-old, Epicharis stamped himself a legitimate Triple Crown contender with a three-quarter-length victory in the Hyacinth at Tokyo in February and suffered the only loss of his budding career with a hard-fought second to Thunder Snow in the March 25 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse.
A start in the Belmont Stakes will make Epicharis eligible for NYRA's $1 million bonus offered to any Japan-based winner of New York's most prestigious race. Introduced for the 2017 Triple Crown season, the entire $1 million bonus would be awarded to the winning Japanese horse's connections in addition to the $800,000 winner's share of the purse for the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown.
Additionally, Japanese wagering on the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion" has received final regulatory approval, making the 2017 Belmont Stakes the first U.S. Triple Crown event available for pari-mutuel wagering in Japan. Japanese wagering on the Belmont Stakes will be conducted through a separate, non-comingled pool. Post time for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 10 (7:37 a.m. JST on Sunday, June 11).
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Fox Hill Farm's Songbird is on target to make her 2017 debut in the Grade 1, $750,000 Ogden Phipps on the Belmont Stakes undercard on Saturday, June 10.
The Ogden Phipps, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff November 3 at Del Mar, will mark Songbird's first start since finishing a hard-fought second in the Distaff last fall. Songbird, a 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, went 11-for-11 through her juvenile and sophomore seasons before suffering the first defeat of her career at the hands of three-time champion Beholder.
The star filly has been working regularly at Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's Santa Anita base since returning from a winter freshening at the end of January. Most recently, she worked six furlongs early Thursday morning under her regular jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The pair covered the distance in 1:13.80, the fastest of six at the distance.
"She went very well and galloped out well, so we're very pleased," said Hollendorfer. "Mike Smith was up and he's very happy with the way she's coming along. She's bigger than last year, she's put on weight, looks good. She's been training the same, she doesn't act any different that way. We're looking to try to have a good campaign with her."
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A full promotional schedule will complement the live racing card on Memorial Day on Monday, May 29 at Belmont Park. In addition to 6 stakes for New York-breds worth at least $125,000 a piece, there will be family fun activities, the presentation of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, and the chance to participate in the Memorial Day mystery voucher program.
The Venezia, awarded to the jockey who exemplifies extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship, will be presented to Kendrick Carmouche following the third race. The award, established in 1989, is named in honor of jockey Mike Venezia, who died as a result of injuries he suffered in a spill in 1988 at Belmont Park. Venezia, a Brooklyn native, won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career.
Carmouche, 33, was selected as the 2017 winner through an online fan vote hosted on NYRA.com. The Vinton, Louisiana native has amassed more than 2,900 victories in his career and established himself as one of the top riders on the New York Racing Association circuit. In 2016, he piloted 124 winners at NYRA tracks, totaling over $8.2 million in purse earnings.
For the mystery voucher program, fans who are eligible can bring a voucher (either printed out or on your smartphone device) to the special promotion booth located on the first floor of Belmont Park on May 29 to see if they won $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 or $1,000. Fans must register prior at mysteryvouchers.com/belmontpark/register.aspx.
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Fans interested in attending the 2017 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival are urged to purchase their tickets now through BelmontStakes.com. Upgrade your admission package to "Toast the Turn" for exclusive access to craft beer tasting within the Top of the Stretch Food Truck Village. The upgrade will also provide a wristband good for four 12 oz. premium beers, rehydration kit with snacks and water, discounts on food and beverage, and a Belmont Stakes Souvenir. Upgrade your admission package at https://www.belmontstakes.com/ToasttheTurn.
Premium hospitality options are selling fast, with limited reservations remaining in Belmont Park's Garden Terrace, Marquee Tent, Turf & Field Club and Champagne Room.
For additional information on all tickets and hospitality options please visit BelmontStakes.com and follow us on Twitter for the latest news and updates @BelmontStakes.