Belmont Stakes 2012: Trainers with Most to Prove at Belmont

Ted LeeCorrespondent IJune 9, 2012

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another is walked in the paddock before a retirement ceremony before the start of the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2012 in Elmont, New York. The triple crown hopeful is being retired due to an injury.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

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. 


Michael Matz

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. 


Bob Baffert

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.