"It was going to be my friend or the enemy", Baffert said when asked about what other horses he was concerned about as the race developed.
"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 told The Post on Sunday.
Justify, who cross the finish 1¾ lengths in front of 24-1 longshot and Keeneland sales graduate Gronkowski, is the 20 Belmont victor produced by Keeneland sales.
People in racing with knowledge of the deal said it included a bonus of about $25 million were Justify to win the Triple Crown, which he then went on to do, and that it also allowed the multiple owners to retain some shares in the horse when he begins his career as a sire (a provision that also has benefited Zayat to the tune of millions of dollars).More news: Paris street on lockdown amid reports of armed man holding people hostage
While saying Justify was the deserving victor, Repole told reporter Tom Pedula he felt like Restoring Hope, a 37-1 shot, ran interference for Justify against other horses in the race.
In providing a second Triple Crown in a span of three years, however, Justify has done his part to make the achievement mainstream once again. In the wake of his Belmont triumph on Saturday, they said they were open to the idea of keeping him on the racetrack but wanted to be absolutely sure he was healthy after a whirlwind schedule in which he raced and won six times, beginning in mid-February. "Now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is".
Baffert took American Pharoah to Saratoga in August 2015 and the Triple Crown victor was upset by Keen Ice in the Travers.
"No, Restoring Hope has natural speed", Baffert said.More news: Kevin Durant says he would consider retiring at 35
Since 1990, there have been 10 instances where horses have won the first two of the three legs of the Triple Crown: Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, Big Brown in 2008, I'll Have Another in 2012 and California Chrome in 2014.
The season-ending Breeders' Cup world championships are in Louisville on November 2-3. He's just an unbelievable horse. He captured the first in 2:28.18. We're just so proud of him. He refused comparisons between the two horses, saying they are different types of racers. But now what? Has another "savior" of horse racing come and gone?
His human handlers also made history.
"Opinions die", Baffert said.More news: Paris on lockdown as 'armed man takes hostages'