|It may have been a while ago, but the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the US Triple Crown, is worth recapping. Because something historic happened in Belmont Park/New York. With Arcangelo`s triumph, a piece of history was written on Saturday evening, as the previously unknown Jena Antonucci became the first trainer to saddle the winner of a Triple Crown race.
The favourite was ridden by Javier Castellano and finished one and a half lengths ahead of 9-4 favourite Forte, while Tapit Trice was third.
Florida-based Antonucci owned Arcangelo, a promising but inexperienced stallion who made his debut the week before Christmas. Since then he has blossomed, and a minor victory at Gulfstream Park in March was followed by a Grade 3 success at Belmont Park last month.
"I will forever be indebted to him for being so honest with us, for having so much heart and for being the reason you get up seven days a week. I didn`t get much sleep the last few nights, I`m not going to lie. I`m so grateful," Antonucci assured.
Todd Pletcher, Brad Cox, Bob Baffert and Steven Asmussen - star trainers in the United States - were featured in the Belmont Stales race, won 50 years ago by Secretariat, whose stunning performance is arguably the best ever by a Thoroughbred.
"You have great people around you, you work hard. If you do it right, the time will come," said Antonucci, 47, who grew up with horses and worked for the legendary D Wayne Lukas, before spending time as an equine veterinary assistant.
Before she started training in 2010, she ran a pre-training and spelling business. Antonucci paid tribute to her winner: "He`s figuring everything out right now. He`s just a great kid. Javier Castellano did a great job."
The win was also a notable achievement for Castellano, who followed up his victory on Mage this year with two Preakness wins in 2006 (Bernardini) and 2017 (Cloud Computing) to win the final race of the Triple Crown.
The Racecourse Spy