Irish War Cry walks with trainer Graham Motion following on foot June 3

Irish War Cry walks with trainer Graham Motion following on foot June 3

Maggie Kimmitt

Irish War Cry 7-2 Morning-Line Pick for Belmont Stakes

Son of Curlin looks for redemption after Kentucky Derby disappointment.

Three weeks ago trainer Graham Motion's plan for Irish War Cry was to have the son of Curlin  ready for a summer campaign.

On June 7, after some reflection on the part of his connections and some circumstance adversely impacting others, Isabelle de Tomaso's homebred colt was officially tagged as the sophomore with the biggest target on his back for the final leg of the Triple Crown.

With champion Classic Empire  out of the June 10 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) with a hoof abscess discovered Wednesday morning, Irish War Cry inherited the position of favoritism for the 1 1/2-mile race; installed as the 7-2 morning-line choice out of post 7 in the 12-horse lineup.

As of a week ago, Motion was still making up his mind whether to send the chestnut colt on a van to New York or stick to his original plan of targeting the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park this summer. After Irish War Cry flattened out in the lane and finished a disappointing 10th in May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), his conditioner admittedly wanted to put the rest of the classics out of his mind.

All of that got thrown for a loop when Cloud Computing—who finished third behind Irish War Cry in the April 8 Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2)—came running late to best Classic Empire by a head in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1). If watching that outcome made Motion start to reconsider his stance, he was officially convinced to take a swing at the Belmont after his charge turned in two solid works, including a six-furlong breeze in 1:14 at Fair Hill Training Center June 3.

"He's had a good couple of weeks and I can honestly say this was not my original plan," Motion said. "When he ran so disappointingly in the Derby, I wanted to go home and just forget about the rest of the Triple Crown—which is what the Derby does to you when you don't run well. But he had a really good couple of weeks, he breezed well last weekend, and I felt he needed to be here, especially after the results of the Preakness."

The tactical speed that often wins out in the Belmont is something Irish Way Cry has flashed in previous outings, most notably when he took the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2) in gate-to-wire fashion during his seasonal debut Feb. 4.

With Classic Empire out, the only other main speed on paper in the Belmont looks to be Brian Lynch-trained Meantime, who will break from post 9 and will have Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the irons.

Japanese invader Epicharis, runner-up to Thunder Snow in the March 25 UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2), was installed as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line and will break from post 11. Hard-knocking Lookin At Lee, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and the only horse set to run in all three Triple Crown races this season, stands as the 5-1 third choice out of post 6.

Entries: Belmont S. presented by NYRABets (G1)

Belmont Park, Saturday, June 10, 2017, Race 11

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/2m
  • Dirt
  • $1,500,000
  • 3 yo
  • 6:37 PM (local)
11Twisted Tom (NY)Javier Castellano126Chad C. Brown20/1
22Tapwrit (KY)Jose L. Ortiz126Todd A. Pletcher6/1
33Gormley (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateVictor Espinoza126John A. Shirreffs8/1
44J Boys Echo (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado126Dale L. Romans15/1
55Hollywood Handsome (KY)Florent Geroux126Dallas Stewart30/1
66Lookin At Lee (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.126Steven M. Asmussen5/1
77Irish War Cry (NJ)Rajiv Maragh126H. Graham Motion7/2
88Senior Investment (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateChanning Hill126Kenneth G. McPeek12/1
99Meantime (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMike E. Smith126Brian A. Lynch15/1
1010Multiplier (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario126Brendan P. Walsh15/1
1111Epicharis (JPN)Christophe Lemaire126Kiyoshi Hagiwara4/1
1212Patch (KY)John R. Velazquez126Todd A. Pletcher12/1