Horse Racing
Arcangelo, trainer Jena Antonucci make history with Belmont Stakes triumph
Horse Racing

Arcangelo, trainer Jena Antonucci make history with Belmont Stakes triumph

Updated Jun. 11, 2023 4:56 p.m. ET

ELMONT, N.Y. — Entering the 155th edition of the Belmont Stakes, a female trainer had never won "The Test of the Champion."

On Saturday night in New York, the drought ended, and the oldest leg of the Triple Crown series produced a first-of-its-kind dose of horse racing history. 

The 2023 Belmont Stakes: Watch the entire race

Arcangelo won the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes, with Javier Castellano the winning jockey and Jena Antonucci the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Arcangelo has won the Belmont Stakes, and in doing so, Jena M. Antonucci is the first female trainer to experience the glory of a Triple Crown victory.


A horse that was purchased for just $35,000 by owner Jon Ebbert in 2021 and was not even entered into the Triple Crown series by the first two deadlines in January and March, was the star of the show in New York on Saturday evening. 

Taking the lead in the final third of the 12-furlong run and charging to a victory by a length and a half over Forte, Arcangelo exploded in the final stretch and finished in 2:29.23. 

"If you can’t find a seat at the table, make your own table," Antonucci told FOX Sports’ Tom Rinaldi following the victory, before offering up advice to the women in the horse racing world.

"Never give up. Build your time. People see you. Keep working your butt off." 

It’s only fitting that 50 years to the weekend that Secretariat completed history as the greatest racehorse of all time, that an unprecedented occurrence emerged on a perfect 75-degree evening in New York. 

As if Antonucci and Ebbert’s relationship — which came together by pure coincidence at a yearling sale in 2021 — was not enough for this improbable and historic script, the road for Arcangelo to even be in Saturday night’s Belmont Stakes is a script for Hollywood.

The horse was not even an entrant for the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes. But on May 13, making just his fourth career start, everything shifted. Arcangelo edged Bishops Bay in a battle at Belmont Park to win the Peter Pan Stakes.

This may be the most amazing part of Arcangelo’s improbable journey. Because the horse was not entered at the previous January and March deadlines for the Triple Crown series, there was a $50,000 supplemental fee for Arcangelo to run the Belmont.

As Ebbert said, the horse basically paid the fee, having won $110,000 with the Peter Pan victory. He turned that into a top prize of around $900,000 on Saturday at Belmont Park.

But even after winning the Peter Pan, Antonucci wasn’t sure if they would run Arcangelo in the final leg of the Triple Crown. 

"There’s a conversation we need to have," Antonucci said following the victory. "We have no plan yet. … We’ve let the horse grow and mature and here we are."

Yet, here they are: Ebert, a Pennsylvania-based real estate investor, and Antonucci, who has dedicated her life to horseracing and became just the 11th female trainer to have a horse at the Belmont Stakes, have been rewarded for what Ebert calls an Antonucci trait: Patience.

While Saturday night marked history for Arcangelo and Antonucci, the story can’t be told without a jockey who accomplished two firsts in his career this year and completed a legendary run in the Triple Crown series.

Javier Castellano, a 45-year-old from Venezuela, was the defining face of Kentucky Derby night when he rode 15-1 shot Mage to his first-ever title in the Run for the Roses. 

With Mage falling at the Preakness Stakes, the 2017 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame honoree, and a four-time Jockey of the Year, was open for another horse. Arcangelo was his for the first Belmont Stakes crown of his career, and the 15th major race victory for Castellano in America.

Here are the final standings.

  1. Arcangelo
  2. Forte
  3. Tapit Trice
  4. Hit Show

On a day of pageantry and nostalgia, with a special statue of Secretariat standing directly outside of Belmont Park, more than 50,000 patrons filled the stands.

A Triple Crown may not have been on the line, but the weather, vibe and a blast to the past weekend backdrop all helped produce something special.

On Saturday night, Arcangelo and Antonucci showed the whole world the impact that horseracing has in the sports world, providing a historic moment at Belmont Park and a beam of hope for female trainers.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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