For the third consecutive day, Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) entrant Epicharis did not go to the track June 9, two days after he received a treatment of phenylbutazone for "lameness" in his right front leg.
The Japanese-bred colt walked the shedrow, first without a jockey and then with a rider up, and was examined by New York Racing Association chief examining veterinarian Anthony Verderosa Friday morning, but information on his specific condition was not disclosed.
Martin Panza, NYRA's senior vice president of racing operations, updated the assembled media on Epicharis' condition at the Belmont Park quarantine barn Friday morning. Epicharis' connections, who were made available to the media earlier in the week, were not made available Friday.
"He's not going to come out," Panza said of the colt. "They're going to work on him this afternoon with ice. They feel confident they can make the race tomorrow, but they're still going to monitor the horse. Obviously the horse comes first, and if there are any problems, they'll reevaluate. Right now they're very comfortable that the horse is comfortable and much better than he was two days ago.
"Right now we look OK. They're going to check him again around 3-3:30 (p.m.) and they think he's moving in the right direction and will be OK for tomorrow."
Panza would not specify what the specific issue was with Epicharis' right front, but other officials at NYRA said he has been fitted with a glue-on shoe.
"I guess (it's) in the hoof area, but I don't want to get into the specifics on it, because I'm not the right person to do that. But it's not an abscess," Panza said. "They've been working on it with ice and just helping the natural (process). He was off a couple days ago and that happens occasionally. He was walking sound yesterday and continues to walk sound today.
"They're pretty confident he's OK, but it's something you deal with. This happens to be a grade 1 race and a very important horse, so this becomes a bigger issue."
Epicharis last went out to train at Belmont June 6, when he breezed five furlongs in 1:06 on the training track. The son of Gold Allure most recently finished second in the March 25 UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) at Meydan Racecourse.
Because of Epicharis' entry in the Belmont, a Japanese wagering pool is scheduled for the race. Although the pool will not be comingled with the U.S. pool of wagering on the race, NYRA hopes the handle will reach between $10 million and $20 million just from Japan bettors. NYRA and New York horsemen will split the simulcast fee from the Japanese wagering pool.
Epicharis was re-evaluated Friday afternoon, but an update on the horse's condition was not made available at that time.