Without any complaints from trainers or jockeys, the Belmont Stakes controversy seems to be blowing over.
Despite questions from house owners in regards to the racing ways of coach Bob Baffert’s second horse, Restoring Hope, there isn’t a plan to investigate the circumstances that emerged within the aftermath of the third jewel of the Triple Crown, which Justify — Baffert’s first horse — captured Saturday.
Mike Repole, the Queens native and co-owner of fourth-place Vino Rosso and last-place Noble Indy, hoped stewards would query the “reckless riding” of Restoring Hope jockey Florent Geroux after he raced out of the gates to run behind and simply exterior of Justify.
But the New York State Gaming Commission confirmed that there have been no plans for its steward, Steve Lewandowski, to debate it with Geroux.
“Standard procedure has the three stewards closely monitor the race as it is being run and to review the race on digital format in instances where the stewards themselves have concern or when an objection is leveled by jockeys or trainers competing in the event,” a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission mentioned in a press release launched to The Post on Monday. “As Mr. Lewandowski indicated, the stewards did not evidence any issue with the Belmont Stakes and were not contacted with objections by participating jockeys or horsemen. As such, Mr. Lewandowski indicated neither he nor his fellow stewards plan to discuss race strategy with Florent Geroux.”
While admiring Justify, who led wire-to-wire to grow to be the 13th Triple Crown winner, Repole compared the 37-1 Restoring Hope’s tactics to a football play.
“It definitely seemed to me [Restoring Hope] was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont, and Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown,” Repole informed The Post on Sunday.
Restoring Hope proprietor Gary West mentioned he had “no earthly idea what Florent was thinking or what his race strategy was,” however Geroux defended his choice Sunday.
“Bob just wanted me to get good position, he wanted the horse to be forwardly placed, second or third, you don’t see too many closers from Baffert,” Geroux informed the Daily Racing Form. “If my horse would have broke on top, I would have been on the lead and Justify laying second. My horse broke a step slow and Justify was already in front of me.”
Asked Saturday after the race in regards to the thought of utilizing Restoring Hope as a “wing man” out of the gates for Justify, Baffert downplayed it.
“No, Restoring Hope has natural speed,” Baffert mentioned. “His only chance was to be up near the lead in the first wave because he’s like a one-dimensional horse. I think they were going pretty fast. … We were just giving him a chance.”
Other trainers appeared to take much less of a problem with the best way Restoring Hope began the race, together with D. Wayne Lukas, who skilled Bravazo — the horse that gave Justify a late scare within the Preakness however solely completed sixth at Belmont. Lukas mentioned it was “strange” how Restoring Hope broke out early, however acknowledged that his presence didn’t in the end matter.