Justify's stablemate Restoring Hope accused of blocking at Belmont Stakes

Doug Mendoza
June 13, 2018

Saturday, as Justify raced towards history at Belmont Park, fans of Notre Dame football were likely cheering for the horse to win the Belmont Stakes and achieve the 13th Triple Crown in the history of horse racing - a feat he accomplished.

While saying Justify was the deserving victor, Repole told reporter Tom Pedula he felt like Restoring Hope, a 37-1 shot, ran interference for Justify against other horses in the race. "But I can see the stewards looking into this over the next couple of days".

Justify, the theory goes, got a bit of help from stablemate Restoring Hope.

Chris Kay, president of the New York Racing Association, joked that he would "hold Bode hostage until they make the decision", referring to Baffert's 13-year-old son. "We thought he was that kind of horse but they have to prove it".

Race horse Gronkowski, who is named after and partially owned by Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, took second place and Hofburg placed in third.

"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in? It would have been even worse if he was behind horses".

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Restoring Hope's owner, Gary West, was among those frustrated with the race.

"I have no earthly idea what Florent was thinking or what his race strategy was", he told the Post in an email.

Since 1990, there have been 10 instances where horses have won the first two of the three legs of the Triple Crown: Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, Big Brown in 2008, I'll Have Another in 2012 and California Chrome in 2014. Maybe the horse was completely out of control and Florent had no choice.

As was the case with American Pharoah, who ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought, spectators waited as the van carrying Justify turned the corner before stopping in front of Baffert's barn. "But I said, I don't know, three is a good number". Plus, as Forde noted, Repole had sought to employ a little gamesmanship himself, having Noble Indy rabbit - i.e. set a fast pace to tire out other competitors - and set the stage for Vino Rosso. "His only chance was to be up near the lead".

Noble Indy, a 23-1 shot ridden by Javier Castellano, never got closer than fourth.

Other reports by GizPress

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