Jena Antonucci made history on June 10 as she became the first woman trainer to win a Triple Crown race in the United States.
Antonucci’s Arcangelo Dominates Belmont Stakes, Surpassing Forte as Favorite
Under the guidance of Antonucci, Arcangelo, ridden by Javier Castellano, displayed impressive form, crossing the finish line with a length and a half lead over the 9-4 favorite, Forte. Tapit Trice secured the third-place position in the prestigious race.
The absence of Kentucky Derby hero Mage and the sixth-place finish of National Treasure, who had beaten Mage in the Preakness Stakes, did not detract from the significance of Antonucci’s triumph. The Belmont Stakes went ahead despite concerns about air quality due to wildfires in Canada.
Antonucci, who hails from Florida, had high hopes for the inexperienced colt, Arcangelo, who made his debut shortly before Christmas. The colt’s growth and development were evident with a minor win at Gulfstream Park in March, followed by a Grade 3 success at Belmont Park the previous month.
Antonucci expressed her gratitude and attributed the victory to the horse, stating that it was the horse who deserved the credit, reported the Racing Post. She mentioned her immense gratitude and everlasting indebtedness to the horse’s honesty towards their team. She further acknowledged the sleepless nights leading up to the race, emphasizing her deep appreciation for the accomplishment.
The Journey of Antonucci: From Equine Veterinary Assistant to Triple Crown Triumph
The presence of renowned trainers Todd Pletcher, Brad Cox, Bob Baffert, and Steven Asmussen in the Belmont Stakes added to the significance of Antonucci’s feat.
Reflecting on her journey, Antonucci emphasized the importance of hard work, surrounding oneself with exceptional individuals, and creating opportunities. She also noted the need to persevere and stay dedicated to one’s goals.
Having been involved with horses from an early age and working with notable figures like D. Wayne Lukas, Antonucci established herself as an equine veterinary assistant before venturing into training in 2010. Her experience and dedication finally paid off with Arcangelo’s victory.
The victory not only marked a historic moment for Antonucci but also added to Castellano‘s impressive record in Triple Crown races. With his previous victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, he achieved a clean sweep of wins in these prestigious events.
Antonucci’s success comes at a difficult time for the sport. Four horses died in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, prompting concerns about the safety of horse racing. As a result, Churchill Downs decided to suspend racing operations at the Churchill Downs Racetrack and relocate the Spring Meet to Ellis Park, in order to conduct a comprehensive review of safety protocols and integrity measures.