Trainer Jena Antonucci, who orchestrated the 2023 campaign of GI Belmont S. and GI Travers S. winner Arcangelo (Arrogate), will be presented with the Big Sport of Turfdom award by the Turf Publicists of America (TPA). The award, which recognizes a person or group of people who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists, will be given to Antonucci at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program's annual awards luncheon in Tucson Dec. 5.
Born in Hollywood, Florida, Antonucci, 47, was introduced to the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines as a child and was exposed to Thoroughbred racing by her grandparents, who owned racehorses in New York. After spending time retraining and developing off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Antonucci relocated to Ocala and began breaking and training horses at Padua Stables under D. Wayne Lukas Racing Stables at the farm. She took out her trainer's license in 2010 and started her first horse that March at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I am grateful to be selected as the next recipient of the Big Sport of Turfdom Award from the turf Publicists,” Antonucci said. “I am incredibly honored to be included with such great past winners who were also as enthusiastic to share the incredible journey they were taken on by these amazing horses and, in doing so, promoting our great sport of horse racing. My team and I look forward to continuing to share our passion in the Thoroughbred industry and, in turn help promote it for many years.
Previous winners include jockeys Mike Smith, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Eddie Arcaro and Gary Stevens; trainers Art Sherman, D. Wayne Lukas and Jack Van Berg; and other individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport, such as Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, a two-time winner; announcer Tom Durkin, author Laura Hillenbrand, broadcaster Jim McKay, Turf writer Joe Hirsch and actors Tim Conway and Jack Klugman.
Addded TPA President Najja Thompson: “It has been a historic and phenomenal year for Jena Antonucci. Jena is deserving of this award chosen by the members of the Turf Publicists of America as the Big Sport of Turfdom due to her incredible achievements and leadership in our sport. From becoming the first woman to win a Triple Crown race and campaigning 3-year-old Arcangelo to multiple Grade I victories, serving as an advocate for women in the industry and leading by example. She is always generous with her time and access to the media.”