Easy Goer will take on upstart Housebuster today in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, the first race in New York's handicap triple.
Easy Goer, last year's Belmont Stakes winner and a narrow loser in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to Sunday Silence, made his first start as a 4-year-old May 16 with a 7 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Gold Stage Stake at Belmont.
In the mile Metropolitan, Easy Goer will carry 127 pounds, while Housebuster, winner of eight in a row at a mile or shorter, will carry only 113 pounds because he is a 3-year-old.
"At some time, we have to be more aggressive, and we might have to be in the Met," said Shug McGaughey, Easy Goer's trainer. "If nobody is going to take the race to Housebuster, then we might have to.
"The biggest thing that concerns me is the strategy if Housebuster was to get loose getting 14 pounds. But Idabel has got speed, and I would think that one of the Lukas horses would try to not let him get loose."
Trainer Wayne Lukas will saddle two horses in the Met--Pimlico Special winner Criminal Type and Dancing Pretense.
Easy Goer, who will be ridden by Pat Day, was the early 3-5 favorite, while Housebuster, with Craig Perret, was 3-1.