Losing Owner Ignites a Triple Crown Brouhaha

Mike Repole thinks there should be investigation of riding tactics in Belmont Stakes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2018 5:03 AM CDT
Losing Owner Ignites a Triple Crown Brouhaha
Justify, with jockey Mike Smith, leads the pack on the first turn of the Belmont Stakes.   (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

(Newser) – The owner of two horses who finished behind Triple Crown winner Justify in the Belmont Stakes thinks the race was a little fishy. Mike Repole tells the New York Post that he thinks a longshot by the name of Restoring Hope essentially blocked for Justify during a portion of the race, and he hopes racing officials investigate. Restoring Hope and Justify are stablemates. "It definitely seemed to me he was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont," says Repole of Restoring Hope, "and Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown." Restoring Hope, a 37-1 longshot with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, ended up finishing eighth, notes Kentucky.com.

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Justify is a "super horse," says Repole, "but I can see the stewards looking into this over the next couple of days." Justify grabbed the lead at the start of the race, and Restoring Hope quickly set up just behind him and to the outside, triggering Repole's football analogy. Jockey Geroux is not commenting, but Restoring Hope owner Gary West tells the Post he was baffled by the strategy. "Maybe the horse was completely out of control and Florent had no choice," he says. "I will never know." Another losing owner, D. Wayne Lukas, says Restoring Hope did not affect the outcome. But "that was strange the way they sent him up there," he added. "I mean, he compromised a few horses with blocking and so forth." (Justify is now the most valuable horse in racing history.)

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