Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race, as her colt Arcangelo won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and brought a curtain on this tumultuous Triple Crown season.
Jockey Javier Castellano, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Mage, skillfully guided Arcangelo along the rail and burst past Preakness winner National Treasure and held off Forte in the final strides.
Antonucci’s historic triumph came on the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s famed win at Belmont for owner Penny Chenery, one of horse racing’s best known female figures.
The Florida-based Antonucci goes into the Triple Crown record books and will sure to be mentioned alongside Julie Krone who is the only woman to have won one of horse racing’s three big races.
Krone’s Colonial Affair won the 1993 Belmont Stakes won the 1993 Belmont Stakes to become the first, and so far only, female jockey to win the third jewel of “The Test of the Champion.”
Arcangelo paid $17.80 for a $2 win bet. Forte placed second and Tapit Twice came in third.
Saturday’s Belmont Stakes was the third and final jewel of the Triple Crown, capping what’s supposed to be thoroughbred horse racing’s annual five-week showcase.
Instead, the past 35-plus days have been filled with questions about the sport’s viability in the wake of several equine fatalities on this huge stage.
A week ago Friday, Churchill Downs, host of the Kentucky Derby, announced it had suspended racing on the famed oval to investigate the spike in fatalities.
A dozen horses died there during the spring season, a relatively large number compared with 15 to die at Kentucky tracks in all of 2022.
And shortly before National Treasure won the Preakness, the ordinarily joyful day at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore was marred by tragedy when Havnameltdown broke down at the top of the stretch of the $200,000 Grade IIII Chick Lang Stakes and had to be euthanized.
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