Arcangelo Makes History For Antonucci In the Belmont

Arcangelo | Sarah Andrew

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ELMONT, NY – There wasn't a Triple Crown on the line in Saturday's 155th renewal of the GI Belmont S., but the sunsplashed crowd of 48,089 still witnessed a piece of history.

Trainer Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race when the lightly raced Arcangelo (Arrogate) delivered a decisive victory at 7-1 in the 1 1/2-mile Classic. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to champion Forte (Violence), favored at 2-1, who nosed out his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Tapit Trice (Tapit) for second.

A former equine veterinary assistant and employee of Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas before going out on her own in 2010, the 47-year-old's only other graded stakes winner prior to Arcangelo's win in the GIII Peter Pan S. was Doctor J Dub (Sharp Humor), winner of the GIII Turf Monster in 2016.

“It's the horse and I am so grateful,” said an emotional Antonucci while fighting off tears in the post-race press conference. “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.”

After working his magic aboard Mage (Good Magic) for a much-deserved first GI Kentucky Derby win on the first Saturday in May, jockey Javier Castellano pulled off another masterpiece in the irons to capture his first career Belmont victory.

“This is a dream come true,” said Castellano, who also has a pair of Preakness wins on his Hall of Fame plaque. “To win two Triple Crown races in the same year, it's amazing. Everything worked out good. There's always something to shoot for, but I'm just going to keep working hard. But this is so special.”

Drawn on the inside in post three, Arcangelo was hard held in third as the rail-drawn 20-1 longshot Tapit Shoes (Tapit) and GI Preakness S. winner National Treasure (Quality Road) mixed it up on the front end through an opening quarter in a sharp :23.63.

National Treasure went on with it and led the field of nine up the mighty Belmont backstretch as Arcangelo dropped back to sixth through a half mile in :47.69. Locked and loaded just behind the leaders through six furlongs in 1:12.56, Arcangelo snuck up along the rail rounding the far turn and reached even terms with National Treasure a quarter of a mile from home.

Arcangelo began to separate himself from the field as they straightened and led by 3 1/2 lengths at the stretch call. Despite some right-handed reminders by Castellano down the lane, the shadow-rolled Arcangelo wandered some in deep stretch, but was never seriously threatened by the aforementioned rallying Pletcher duo to bring home the blanket of white carnations.

“He's just figuring it all out,” Antonucci said. “He's just a big kid. Javier [Castellano] did such a great job. There were a lot of horses taking up in the first turn and he sorted that out and got it together and on the backside made his way up the rail. We knew we wanted to get a little jump on them. We weren't even worried about the distance. His cruising speed is just stupid, stupid fast.”

Arcangelo becomes the first Peter Pan winner since Tonalist (2014) to double up in the Belmont. He also joins A.P. Indy (1992) and Coastal (1979) to pull off the double.

An absolute steal for $35,000 by Jon Ebbert's Blue Rose Farm at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling sale, Arcangelo was a debut second sprinting in the Gulfstream slop Dec. 17. The gray earned his diploma two starts later going a one-turn mile in Hallandale Mar. 18. He was making his two-turn debut in the Belmont following a hard-fought head score in the local prep going 1 1/8 miles. He was a $50,000 late supplement to the Triple Crown series.

Ebbert started his first horse Daydreamin Boy in 2009 at Philadelphia Park and headed to the Belmont with just three career winner's circle photos between his Blue Rose Farm moniker and horses listed under his name. Arcangelo is the first horse that he and Antonucci have teamed up on.

“It's amazing,” Ebbert said. “What an amazing ride. I'm so proud of the horse. He's an amazing horse. He's all heart. We knew he had it in him. Javier rode him perfectly and Jena is an amazing trainer. I'm so lucky to find her. The rest is history.”

Pedigree Notes:

Arcangelo becomes the fifth Grade I winner for the gone-too-soon Arrogate, who was humanely euthanized after suffering from an undetermined illness in June 2020.

Tapit, the king of the Belmont with four winners, is the broodmare sire of 13 Grade I winners now, including this year's GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief), who added a thrilling victory in Friday's GI Acorn S., and Saturday's GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H. winner and last year's GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody's Wish (Curlin).

Arcangelo is the most recent produce from the unraced Modeling, a $2.85-milllion purchase by Don Alberto Corp. at the 2014 KEENOV sale, who was barren in 2023 (bred to McKinzie and Curlin). Modeling is a half-sister to GISW Streaming (Smart Strike).

Arcangelo's third dam is the legendary broodmare Better Than Honour, who has produced Belmont winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.

What They're Saying…

“A mile and a half wasn't far enough [laughs]. I'm super proud of both horses. I knew we were asking a lot coming off the 10-week layoff [with Forte]. 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.” —Todd Pletcher, trainer of runner-up Forte and third-place finisher Tapit Trice

“I got a good trip. I just don't think we were good enough today. Hit Show did awesome. He broke good, put me in a great position going into the turn. From there until the wire, he gave me his all.” —Manny Franco, jockey of fourth-place finisher Hit Show

“It was an Arrogate. What did they say about Arrogate when he won [the Travers]? Arrogate steals the show. I'm so happy for her [Jena]. Johnny [Velazquez] said he could never turn him off today. He was really tense. He never got a chance to relax. He never shut it down. But he ran hard. He gave us a little bit of a thrill turning for home, but he didn't relax. He couldn't get him to turn off. He was on the bit the whole way.” —Bob Baffert, trainer of sixth-place National Treasure

Belmont Stakes Day Generates Record Handle for Non-Triple Crown Year…

Saturday's blockbuster Belmont S. Day card generated all-sources handle of $118,283,455, which is a NYRA record for a non-Triple Crown year. The 2023 all-sources handle figure is an increase of more than five percent over the previous non-Triple Crown record of $112,725,278, which was set in 2021. On-track handle for the 13-race card, which included six Grade I races among nine total stakes, was $10,657,332. All-sources handle for the Belmont S. was $56,533,820. Following the construction of UBS Arena, and prior to the renovation of Belmont Park set to begin in 2024, capacity at the facility is 50,000.

Saturday, Belmont Park
BELMONT S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GI, $1,500,000, Belmont, 6-10, 3yo, 1 1/2m, 2:29.23, ft.
1–ARCANGELO, 126, r, 3, by Arrogate
            1st Dam: Modeling, by Tapit
            2nd Dam: Teeming, by Storm Cat
            3rd Dam: Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($35,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Blue Rose
Farm; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Jena M. Antonucci;
J-Javier Castellano. $900,000. Lifetime Record: 5-3-1-0,
$1,067,400. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Forte, 126, c, 3, Violence–Queen Caroline, by Blame.
'TDN Rising Star'. ($80,000 Wlg '20 KEENOV; $110,000 Ylg '21
KEESEP). O-Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable; B-South Gate
Farm (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $270,000.
3–Tapit Trice, 126, c, 3, Tapit–Danzatrice, by Dunkirk.
'TDN Rising Star'. ($1,300,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Whisper Hill
Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck); B-Gainesway
Thoroughbreds Ltd. (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $150,000.
Margins: 1HF, NO, 3/4. Odds: 7.90, 2.25, 5.30.
Also Ran: Angel of Empire-(DH), Hit Show-(DH), National Treasure, Il Miracolo, Red Route One, Tapit Shoes.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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