A lot of questions are waiting for answers after Justify’s win of the Belmont Stakes 2018. The questions loom over the actions of Restoring Hope and Noble Indy and whether they have in any way affected Justify’s win. Was Restoring Hope ridden to win or to aid Justify’s win? If it wasn’t ridden to win, are the fans and the horse racing world okay with that?
What Was the Role of Restoring Hope and Noble Indy in the Race?
A lot of handicappers agree that Noble Indy could easily have pushed Justify through the early fractions and put a question mark over his Triple Crown Belmont win. However, the interesting thing is that WinStar farm is the managing partner of Justify but also owns some shares of Noble Indy.
The WinStar would probably not want to harm itself; however, Noble Indy was ridden by Mike Repole who stated that he would love to win the Belmont Stakes. He said he would not only like to win but also help Vino Rosso, which is another horse in the team.
What’s the Deal with Restoring Hope’s Ride?
If you take a look at the track replay online, you can see that Restoring Hope rode aggressively to get to the front. He found a hole between Tenfold and Bravazo. However, when he got in the lead, he shied to the right and the other nine horses went to the left.
When he went past Noble Indy, he pushed him to the right to attempt to avoid him. This way, Noble Indy was slowed down and could not get to Justify. Moreover, you can see that, in the turn, when Bravazo had Justify to his left and Restoring to his right, Restoring Hope was pulled to the left instead of letting the horse naturally catch up with the Justify by following the bend. This is a very uncommon move in horse racing.
The Audience Is Unfazed
Even though we can act surprised by what happened, the reality is that such actions are more and more common. The horse racing audience doesn’t seem baffled by Restoring Hope entering the race just to help Justify win his triple crown. This practice has not been common in big races so far but in the past horses were used as rabbits to set a strong early pace and ensure a win for a horse from the same stable.
What Do the Horse Racing Rules Say?
The New York rules and regulations on horse racing are clear and state that all horses are expected to give their best to win the race. All actions of jockeys that would serve a different purpose than winning are forbidden and will earn disciplinary action.
The question is, was the 2018 Belmont Stakes ridden in accord with the rules? The state stewards should answer that question. However, Steve Lewandowski, who is a steward of the New York Gaming Commission, did not show any interest in this subject.