06/08/2017 7:11AM

Epicharis treated for lameness, but trainer still hopes to run in Belmont

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Barbara D. Livingston
According to veterinary records released by the New York State Gaming Commission, Epicharis was treated Wednesday for a "possible foot" problem.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Japanese invader Epicharis was treated on Wednesday night at Belmont Park for lameness in his right front leg, according to veterinary records released late Wednesday by the New York State Gaming Commission, but his trainer on Thursday morning said he was hopeful Epicharis could make the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Kiyoshi Hagiwara, the trainer of Epicharis, said the colt walked at the barn on Thursday, but would not go to the track to train. Hagiwara said he was hopeful Epicharis could go to the track for a regular training session on Friday.

"He looked a little different favoring his right front [Wednesday] afternoon, so we treated his hoof and gave him Bute," Hagiwara said via a Japan Racing Association interpreter. "It looks like it is getting better and I think there is no problem with him running in the race. We still have time, so we will give him the best care we can."

The Belmont lost a marquee name in recent days when Classic Empire, the expected favorite, was withdrawn with an abscess in his right front hoof. Epicharis was part of a major recruiting effort by the New York Racing Association to bring in a horse from Japan, and Epicharis is eligible for a $1 million bonus should he win the race. At present there are 12 runners in the Belmont.

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The New York State Gaming Commission publishes vet records for the Belmont horses at the close of each day in the 72 hours leading up to the race. According to the paperwork that was filed late Wednesday, Epicharis was treated intraveneously with the anti-inflammatory Butazolidin. The paperwork cited that the issue was "possible foot."

Epicharis had his final workout for the Belmont on Tuesday. The Belmont would be his first start since he finished second in the United Arab Emirates Derby in March.

The Belmont Stakes vet records for Wednesday also showed that Gormley was treated with five liters of fluid for "mild dehydration," and that Senior Investment was treated with acupuncture and B-12 vitamin for a "slight muscle spasm."

All other Belmont runners were listed as having "no treatment."