With I'll Have Another being ceremoniously retired before the start of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, the competition to win the 2012 Belmont Stakes is wide open.
With Michael Matz and Union Rags being the new favorite with a 3-1 morning line, all other trainers and horses have an almost equal opportunity to win the Belmont Stakes. An equal opportunity will give trainers their chance to shine, but who has the most pressure to win now that I'll Have Another won't be racing today?
Darrell Wayne Lukas
After his comments about Doug O'Neill (via the Chicago Sun-Times), Lukas probably has the most pressure to win. He must back up his statement about O'Neill and I'll Have Another, because he was once known and accused of doing the same thing. His horse, Optimizer, hasn't won this year, and will be racing from Post 10 at Belmont. Lukas has to prove he's better than drugging horses, and prove he is still a winner.
As mentioned earlier, Matz is now the new favorite going into the Belmont Stakes. With a morning line of 3-1, everyone will be eyeing Union Rags, starting from Post 3. Union Rags has always been known as a top horse, but he just hasn't won enough. Matz now has enormous pressure to win, going from underdog to favorite.
With a morning line of 7-2, Baffert and his horse, Paynter, also went from underdog to one of the favorites to win the Belmont Stakes. Racing from Post 9, Paynter has won first place in the last race Baffert trained Paynter for. Becoming one of the favorites is easy in horse racing, but backing it up is difficult, and Baffert wants to prove he and Paynter are the real deal.