Updated on 06/10/2017 9:39AM

Epicharis fails veterinary exam, scratched from Belmont Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Epicharis was examined by a team of veterinarians Saturday morning.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Epicharis was scratched from Saturday's Belmont Stakes after failing to pass the prerace 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 on 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.

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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, Ketaprofen, 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 that right front hoof. But all the work on him since Wednesday was not enough to make him fit to perform.

"This was a minor issue, but the team has done a great job to care for the horse over the past few days, and while we are greatly disappointed for the fans of Epicharis, we have to face the fact that he is not able to compete today," trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said via an interpreter in a statement released by NYRA.

"The horse is close to being able to compete, but we ran out of time. We'd like to thank the team of veterinarians and staff for their hard work. We look forward to getting Epicharis home and back to the racetrack very soon."

Epicharis is scheduled to return to Japan on Thursday.

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

There are now 11 runners in the Belmont.

– additional reporting by David Grening