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Irish War Cry returns to final leg of Triple Crown as favorite

NEW YORK -- Irish War Cry is returning to the Triple Crown trail as the favorite for the Belmont Stakes.

The colt claimed that status after expected favorite, Classic Empire, was forced out earlier Wednesday because of an abscess in his right front hoof.

Irish War Cry finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness.

No one was more surprised at the turn of events than Graham Motion, who trains Irish War Cry. He left his base in Fair Hill, Maryland, early in the day, and by the time he arrived in New York, his colt was the favorite in the 12-horse field for Saturday's race.

Irish War Cry drew the No. 7 post under jockey Rajiv Maragh.

Japan-based Epicharis is the second choice, followed by Lookin At Lee, who will be the only horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.