Did the strategies employed by two of the jockeys in the Belmont Stakes make winning the Triple Crown easier on Justify?
Owners of the two horses definitely have some questions.
Mike Repole, co-owner of Noble Indy and Vino Rosso, told Tom Pedulla writing for the New York Post he wanted stewards to look into Florent Geroux's “reckless” ride aboard Restoring Hope, the Bob Baffert stablemate of Justify who appeared to act as a security guard for the eventual winner. Repole said Restoring Hope was put in a position to be an offensive lineman blocking for his running back, Justify.
Restoring Hope's owner, Gary West, was also perplexed.
“I have no earthly idea what Florent was thinking or what his race strategy was,” he told Pedulla. “Had I known better, the first eighth of a mile I would have thought it was a quarter-horse race, not the mile-and-a-half Belmont.”
Geroux told the Daily Racing Form's David Grenig Restoring Hope got rank with him entering the first turn.
“I didn't want to break, get the horse covered up and then the horse starts getting aggressive behind horses. It would have been even worse if he was behind horses,” Geroux said.
Repole was also miffed that rider Javier Castellano failed to send Noble Indy to pressure Justify and perhaps aid Vino Rosso's closing kick.
“He decided to call an audible, and that's not the way we wanted the race run,” Repole said. “I am baffled by the audible.” Repole told Grenig he wouldn't be asking Castellano to ride his horses again any time soon.
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