05/03/2017 2:16PM

Epicharis will travel from Japan for Belmont Stakes

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Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club
Epicharis (right), second in the UAE Derby to Thunder Snow, is pointing to the June 10 Belmont Stakes.

Epicharis, the Japanese-bred 3-year-old who was eligible to run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, was confirmed as a starter for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 10, it was announced late Tuesday night.

Should he win the Belmont, Epicharis would earn his connections a $1 million bonus that the New York Racing Association announced earlier this year for any Japanese-based horse who wins the race. That is on top of the $800,000 first-place purse.

It is expected that the Belmont will be offered for wagering in Japan, making it the first Triple Crown race available for simulcast in that country. Wagering will be conducted through a separate, non-commingled pool.

This will mark the second straight year that a Japanese-bred will run in the Belmont Stakes. Last year, Lani participated in all three Triple Crown races, his best finish being a third in the Belmont behind Creator and Destin.

Epicharis, a son of Gold Allure trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara, won his first four starts before losing by a nose to Thunder Snow in the $2 million UAE Derby at Meydan on March 27. Epicharis had been eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby by earning the most qualifying points from two races that Churchill Downs dubbed the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.”

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“When he arrived in Japan from Dubai, he was bit tired from traveling, and we wanted to give him enough time. Thus, we had to pass on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes,” Hagiwara said. “Now, he is completely recovered, and he is doing well, so we decided to try the Belmont Stakes. He is bred to stay, and the way he races, I believe 1 1/2 miles at Belmont suits him.”

Epicharis is expected to ship to Belmont on June 1. His regular rider, Christophe Lemaire, will have the mount.

Epicharis is owned by U. Carrot Farm, a Japanese-based syndicate that won the 2005 American Oaks at Hollywood Park with Cesario, believed to be the first Japanese-bred Grade 1 winner in the U.S.