Arcangelo gives trainer Antonucci historic win in Belmont Stakes

Jun 10, 2023 Vance Hanson/

ARCANGELO (Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photography)

Thirty years after Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone became the first and thus far only female jockey to win a Triple Crown race when guiding Colonial Affair in the 1993 Belmont S. (G1), the 'Test of the Champion' yielded another first when Arcangelo gave Jena Antonucci the distinction of becoming the first woman to train a U.S. classic winner in the 1 1/2-mile fixture on Saturday.

Under a ground-saving ride by Javier Castellano, Arcangelo bid inside of Preakness (G1)-winning pacesetter National Treasure approaching the quarter pole, grabbed the lead opened up through the stretch while drifting out, and held off mild bids from the Todd Pletcher-trained pair of Forte and Tapit Trice to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

'It's the horse and I am so grateful,' Antonucci said. 'I will forever be indebted to his honesty to us, his heart, and he is why you get up seven days a week. I didn't get a lot of sleep the last few nights, I'm not going to lie. I'm so grateful.'

This was the first Belmont win for jockey Javier Castellano, who won the Kentucky Derby (G1) for the first time last month with Mage, who was not entered in the Belmont after running third in the Preakness.

Arcangelo, who was coming off of a hard-fought head victory in the nine-furlong Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont on May 13, covered one lap of Belmont in 2:29.23 over a fast track and paid $17.80 as the fifth choice in a field of nine.

Forte, the 2-1 favorite, ran a terrific race for second, given he had not raced since winning the Florida Derby (G1) 10 weeks earlier. He nabbed second by a nose over stablemate Tapit Trice, who endured a wide trip.

'I knew we were asking a lot coming off the 10-week layoff,' Pletcher said. 'He got shuffled back a little bit and once he got him outside in the clear, he was still making impact at the end but he just ran out of time getting there. Tapit Trice got the trip we wanted. He got out in the clear and made that move and then he kept steadily grinding away. I was super happy with both efforts.'

There was a dead heat for fourth between Hit Show and Angel of Empire. Completing the order of finish were National Treasure, Il Miracolo, Red Route One, and Tapit Shoes.

Owned by Blue Rose Farm, Arcangelo has now won three of five starts. Second and fourth in his first two starts, in December and January at Gulfstream, respectively, Arcangelo graduated on March 18 by 3 1/2 lengths going one mile at the South Florida oval. He then followed up with the aforementioned score in the Peter Pan around one turn at Belmont.

Arcangelo is a ridgling son of the late 2016 champion three-year-old Arrogate and the mare Modeling, a Tapit half-sister to Grade 1 winner Streaming. His third dam was Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, who reared Rags to Riches, the last filly winner of the Belmont in 2007, as well as 2006 Belmont winner Jazil.

Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, Arcangelo sold for $35,000 at Keeneland September.

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