Belmont S. (G1) winner Arcangelo extended his winning streak to four in Saturday’s Travers (G1) at Saratoga, putting himself in pole position for champion three-year-old male honors. The son of 2016 Travers record-setter Arrogate beat an all-star cast including champion Forte and the winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, Mage and National Treasure.
Trained by Jena Antonucci, who became the first woman in 85 years to condition a Travers
winner, and ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who racked up a record seventh trophy, Arcangelo went off as the 2.70-1 second choice. Bettors sided with Forte as the 1.75-1 favorite, but last year’s top two-year-old wound up a non-threatening fourth.
Arcangelo shrugged off trouble at the start and managed to secure good position. Breaking from post 2, he found himself shut off when the rail-drawn Forte shifted out, and it got tight as the outside horses wanted to come in. But Castellano smoothly regrouped and got Arcangelo onto the rail, drafting right behind the early leaders.
As expected, Scotland showed speed, with Preakness
(G1) winner National Treasure prompting. Less easy to predict was that Tapit Trice, galvanized by the addition of blinkers, moved up from last to attend the pace on the backstretch. Kentucky Derby
(G1) hero Mage, a bit rank in tight quarters, ended up dropping back, and Forte got shuffled back in the compact group. Disarm was biding his time off the pace until improving position on the inside turning for home.
By that point, Arcangelo had swung out to challenge, and the Blue Rose Farm runner took command from the tiring Scotland. Disarm bravely threaded the needle on the rail to emerge as the only danger, and altered course around Arcangelo in hopes of catching him. But Arcangelo stayed on too strongly, crossing the wire one length in front while finishing 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.23.
Disarm, who had been a promising fourth in the Kentucky Derby, stamped himself as one to watch going forward. Sire Gun Runner was third in both the 2016 Derby and Travers before developing into the 2017 Horse of the Year, also for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Tapit Trice lacked punch, but kept grinding another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Next came Forte, National Treasure, Scotland, and Mage.
Arcangelo has earned $1,754,900 from his 6-4-1-0 record. A late bloomer like Arrogate, he did not break his maiden until March 18 at Gulfstream Park. He’s been unbeatable ever since, progressing to win the May 13 Peter Pan (G3), the 1 1/2-mile Belmont
, and now the Travers.
The patient strategy has paid off for Blue Rose Farm’s Jon Ebbert, who purchased the unfurnished yearling for a bargain $35,000 at Keeneland September. Antonucci is on the same page about bringing the three-year-old along at his own pace, and fans can look forward to what the future might hold for a mature Arcangelo.
Bred by Don Alberto Corp. in Kentucky, the gray gets his coat color from both parents. He’s out of the Tapit mare Modeling, from the family of 2007 Belmont-winning champion filly Rags to Riches.