Epicharis fails exam, scratched from Belmont Stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Epicharis was scratched from Saturday's Belmont Stakes after failing to pass the pre-race veterinary exam performed by Anthony Verderosa, the chief examining veterinarian for the New York Racing Association.

Epicharis was reported to the Belmont Park stewards by Verderosa as still being off in his right front foot, an issue that had prevented Epicharis from going to the track to train on Thursday and Friday.

The exam he did not pass is one required of all horses scheduled to race.

A team of at least five veterinarians examined the colt Saturday morning -- two private vets who have been working on Epicharis this week, one vet from the Japan Racing Association, another from Northern Farm in Japan, plus Verderosa.

Epicharis did not go to the track Thursday or Friday to train after being reported as needing treatment for an issue with his right front foot on Wednesday night, according to daily veterinary reports published by the New York State Gaming Commission.

Those vet reports are required and made public in the 72 hours leading up to the race, so there were reports issued Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Epicharis was treated with Butazolidin on Wednesday, then another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, Ketoprofen, on Thursday. Epicharis was listed as having "no treatment" on Friday.

Epicharis during the middle of the week was outfitted with a glue-on shoe on the right front hoof. But all the work on him since Wednesday was not enough to make him fit to perform.

Epicharis made his last start in the United Arab Emirates Derby, finishing second. He won his four prior starts. He was the 4-1 second choice on the track's morning line for the Belmont Stakes, behind 7-2 favorite Irish War Cry.

There is now a field of 11 runners set for the Belmont.

-- additional reporting by David Grening