Justify became the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown on Saturday, but some in the horse racing industry are crying foul. On Sunday, Mike Repole, co-owner of Vino Rosso and Noble Indy, accused Florent Geroux, who rode Justify’s stablemate Restoring Hope, of blocking other horses to ensure Justify got the win.
“It definitely seemed to me he was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont,” Repole said of Restoring Hope. “And Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown.”
Watch below as Restoring Hope (No. 5, Geroux in hot pink silks) takes the first turn very wide and zeroes in on Justify’s flank, arguably blocking Bravazo’s path. Restoring Hope stays right behind Justify until the final turn, where he quickly falls back to eighth:
“It baffled me,” Repole told the Daily Racing Forum. “I would have thought Baffert would have wanted Restoring Hope nowhere close to the pace. When Geroux broke next to last I would have thought that was a great scenario, he doesn’t have to worry about him. We watched him rush up like he was a Quarter Horse, make a quick right-hand turn, then turn left, pinned [Bravazo] on the rail. He looked like a bodyguard making sure nobody got close to Justify.”
John Velazquez, Vino Rosso’s jockey, also said he felt Geroux used Restoring Hope to protect Justify.
“Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?” Velazquez, a Hall of Fame rider, said. “That’s his job, to protect the other horse and it worked for them. You have to give it to them.”
It’s worth noting that blocking isn’t illegal in horse racing; in fact, during a replay of the race, NBC Sports’ Randy Moss commented that Restoring Hope was “sort of running interference” to prevent Noble Indy from getting near Justify, but “that’s fine, it’s perfectly legal.”
So, did Geroux and Restoring Hope give Justify the assist? Or is this just sour grapes from some sore losers? I’m going with the latter.