Arcangelo finished first at the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York, a historic triumph that marked the first time a female horse trainer won a race in the coveted Triple Crown.
With Arcangelo’s Saturday victory, Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer in history to train a winner of any Triple Crown race, according to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Antonucci is only the 11th woman to train a contender for the Belmont, the third jewel in the Triple Crown, in the race’s history.
Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure led for most of the race, before Arcangelo made a late push inside and held off Forte to capture the historic victory. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano tallied his first victory at the Belmont. Castellano previously rode Mage to victory at the Kentucky Derby.
“I don’t know that we have words right now, we’re going to need a minute,” said an emotional Antonucci after the race. “We’re trying to soak all this in, just so proud of this horse right now. It’s amazing.”
Arcangelo has “got the heart of a champion,” she added.
“Never give up and if you can’t find a seat at the table, make your own table and build your team and never give up,” Antonucci said after asked what message she wanted to send. “You are seen, people see you, just keep working your butt off.”
Antonucci’s historic accomplishment falls on the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s win at Belmont Park for owner Penny Chenery. Chenery is regarded as one of the most successful women in horse racing.
The odds for Arcangelo to win the race were 7-1 as of Saturday morning, according to the Belmont’s official website.
Pre-race favorite Forte finished in second place, while Tapit Trice finished in third and National Treasure came in sixth.
Race comes as horse deaths trigger scrutiny
Arcangelo’s win comes in the wake of a series of unexpected deaths at prestigious racetracks that have shaken the world of horse racing.
The owner of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, announced last week that it would suspend racing operations to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of all safety and surface protocols following the death of 12 horses at the racetrack. The racetrack said it was “troubled” by the deaths. There is no clear cause linking the deaths, according to Churchill Downs.
And at Belmont Park, four horses have died while racing or training since May 13th. The New York Racing Association said each incident would be “closely reviewed and analyzed” to ensure the organization is “providing the safest possible environment for racing and training.”