Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (2024)

ELMONT, N.Y – It's only fitting that history was made a half-century after Secretariat’s record-setting Belmont Stakes performance secured the Triple Crown. Because mixed in with the roar of the Belmont Park crowd early Saturday evening was the sound of horse racing's glass ceiling shattering.

More:After historic Belmont Stakes, another female trainer eyes Monmouth Park's biggest race

When Arcangelo slipped through on the rail and overtook pacesetting Preakness winner National Treasure to hit the wire first, trainer Jena Antonucci became the first female ever to saddle the winner of the Belmont Stakes, and the first to win a Triple Crown race.

WHAT'S NEXT:Haskell 2023: Can Monmouth Park get Triple Crown stars, including Arcangelo, Jena Antonucci?

She's only the 11th woman to have a Belmont runner in the 155-year history of the race.

Arcangelo, who won the Grade 3 Peter Pan at Belmont Park last month to earn a spot in the field, finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Forte, the favorite, with Tapit Trice closing to get third.

“Never give up. And if you can’t find a seat at the table, make your own table,” Antonucci said. “Build your team and never give up."

The 47-year-old Antonucci pulled off the upset even though she has only been training thoroughbreds for 13 years.

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (2)

"You go through growing your career and you take it on the chin and you fight for that spot and you feel like you have to prove your worth," she said. "And horses don’t care who you are. They know who you are. And having a horse believe in you and your team the way that this horse does …”

Sent off at 7-1, Arcangelo paid $17.80 to win on a $2 bet, $7.20 to place and $4.90 to show. Forte paid $4.30 and $3.30, while Tapit Trice paid $4.10.

More:Haskell 2023: Can Monmouth Park get Triple Crown stars, including Arcangelo, Jena Antonucci?

The lightly raced son of Arrogate didn’t break his maiden until March 18 at Gulfstream Park in his third career start, before his game victory in the Peter Pan on May 13.

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (3)

“I just believed in my horse, and the horse gives us that confidence,” said Jon Ebbert of Blue Rose Farm, which owns Arcangelo. “It’s a great team. We’re just the best together."

“A lot of stars have aligned, and this crazy guy gave the girls a chance, so a lot of credit to (Ebbert)," Antonucci said. “I have an immense amount of gratitude for Jon. He’s a young guy and a young owner and he’s a patient owner and there is a lot to be learned from his example of letting a horse develop."

As the race unfolded, Arcangelo sat off the pace in sixth place early on. But jockey Javier Casetallano began to move Arcangelo as they moved around the sweeping turn, before ducking into an opening on the rail as they turned for home, challenging National Treasure. While National Treasure tried to hold on, Arcangelo began to pull away in the final furlong.

"I want to thank you everyone for the opportunity. A dream come true. My first Belmont Stakes win," Castellano said.

The victory denied what would have been a second-straight win in Triple Crown races for trainer Bob Baffert, who returns to the Triple Crown series after a two-year ban after a positive drug test for Medina Spirit was revealed after his victory at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. National Treasure eventually finished sixth in the field of nine.

"I'm so happy for (Antonucci)," Baffert said. "Johnny (Velazquez) said he could never turn (National Treasure) off today. He was really tense. He never got a chance to relax. But he ran hard. He gave us a little bit of a thrill turning for home."

Forte's late charge to grab second culminates what has been a chaotic five weeks for the 2022 Juvenile champion, scratched the morning of the Kentucky Derby as the prerace favorite due to bruised foot. The injury landed him on the Veterinarian's List, which made him ineligible for the Preakness.

"I knew we were asking a lot coming off a 10-week layoff," Forte trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He got shuffled back a little bit and once he got him outside in the clear, he was still making impact at the end but he just ran out of time getting there."

Second choice in the wagering was Angel of Empire, one of three Brad Cox trainees in the field. But Angle of Empire was never able to challenge the leaders in the stretch, finishing in a dead head for fourth place with stablemate Hit Show.

There was a different winner in all three Triple Crown races this year, with Kentucky Derby winner Mage, who finished third in the Preakness, skipping the Belmont.

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (4)

From earlier today:

ELMONT, N.Y. – The wildfire smoke has cleared, air quality has improved, and a showdown between Forte, last year’s Juvenile champion, and National Treasure, the Preakness winner, with a handful of top contenders sprinkled in, makes the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes an intriguing main event Saturday.

The final leg of the Triple Crown – post time is 7:02 p.m. – anchors a Belmont Park card that includes six Grade 1 races.

So while there’s no Triple Crown hanging in the balance, one of the best days in U.S. racing is on tap, with a chance to add clarity several different divisions beyond the 3-year-olds.

So check back right here later this afternoon for coverage of all the action from Belmont Park, including the 2023 Belmont Stakes.

Grade 1 $750,000 Manhattan Handicap

Members of Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable were the winner’s circle at Belmont Park as afternoon turned into evening, as Up to the Mark turned in a dominating performance to win the Manhattan, going 1 1/4-miles on the inner turf course in 1:59.31.

But it was an hour later was when the group really wants to be there, when Forte, who they co-own, is the favorite in the Belmont Stakes.

It was nice warmup, though, as the 8/5 favorite sat just off the pace began passing horses around the turn and then made a huge move with 3/16-mile to go, surging to the front and winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Soldier Rising.

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (5)

Grade 1 $1 million Metropolitan Mile

The most intriguing race on the Belmont undercard was the Met Mile, with superstar Cody’s Wish on the track for looking for a seventh career win at the distance.

And the 5-year-old son of Curlin did not disappoint as the 3/5 favorite. Cody’s Wish made a huge move as the field rounded the turn, quickly moving from sixth place into the lead on the outside as the field turned for home. A powerful finish resulted in a 3 1/4 length win over Zandon third in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

"The key with him has always been the turn," said winning jockey Junior Alvarado. "He picks off a lot of horses there. His ability to move well on the turn helped us today. We took advantage of the big sweeping turn at Belmont and it worked out unbelievably."

It was the sixth straight win for Cody’s Wish, and the fourth straight Grade 1, including a slim victory over Haskell winner Cyberknife in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Grade 1 $400,000 Jaipur Stakes

While trainer Brad Cox will send three runners postward in search of his second Belmont Stakes win in three years, he reached the winner’s circle three races earlier.

In the Jaipur, a six-furlong test on the Widener turf course, it was Caravel, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, overtaking pacesetting Nothing Better as they entered the stretch, before holding off a late run by Big Invasion to secure the $220,000 winner’s share. Casa Creed came on to finish third.

"This is two Grade 1 (wins) for her against the boys," said Cox of the 6-year-old mare. "I don't think I've ever had a filly beat the boys.

"The Breeders' Cup is our main target. There are some races upa t Saratoga but I'm not sure yet how many more times we would need to run prior to the Breeders' Cup."

Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, if was the fifth straight win for Caravel since Gaffalione got the mount, pushing her career earnings to $1.9 million."

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (6)

Grade 1 $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes

Not long before National Treasure won the Preakness on May 20, trainer Bob Baffert sent Zadan Stables’ Arabian Lion out to win the Sir Barton Stakes on the Pimlico undercard.

And just hours before with National Treasure looks to win the final leg of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, it was Arabian Lion roaring to victory in the Woody Stephens Stakes at seven furlongs. The 3-year-old colt by Justify, Baffert’s second Triple Crown winner, overtook previously unbeaten Drew’s Gold to win by 1 3/4 lengths, with Gilmore getting up for third.

"This horse, I've always been so high on, he's been slow to come around," Baffert said. "Amr Zedan, he let me be patient with him and now we're getting rewarded with the way he ran."

It was a perfect trip courtesy of jockey John Velazquez, who kept Arabian Lion out of trouble en route to the colt’s first graded stakes victory.

More:Betting guide to 2023 Belmont Stakes with expert predictions, past performances, analysis

Grade 1 $500,000 Ogden Phipps

The first Grade 1 race of the afternoon was wildly entertaining, as 8/5 favorite Clairiere rallied in the final 1/16-mile to beat second choice Search Results in the Ogden Phills Stakes.

It was the second straight Grade 1 score for the Steve Asmussen trainee, with the 5-year-old mare coming off a neck victory over Secret Oath in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 23.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Clairiere, owned by Stonestreet Stables, sat off the pace set by Play Hard, then Search Results as they rounded the turn. But Clairiere, still fourth as they turned for home, came charging on the outside to get to the wire a half-length in front of Search Results.

"I'm unbelievably proud of her," Asmussen said. "What a special mare. For her to continue to win races on this level is just incredible. She's always been top class and if anything, she's better than she's ever been."

Secret Oath, who finished fifth in the six-horse field, came out of the Apple Blossom and ran second in the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, falling a neck short of pacesetting Played Hard.

More:Owner of Belmont Stakes favorite feels time is running out for horse racing. Here's why

Grade 2 $250,000 Brooklyn Stakes

They went the grueling 12-furlong Belmont Stakes distance in The Brooklyn, the third stakes race of the card. And after battling on the front end with favorite Warrant down the backstretch and into the turn, it was Next, second choice at 3-1, drawing off in the stretch for a comfortable victory.

Next, ridden by Luan Machado and trained by Doug Cowans, was 2 1/4 lengths in front at the wire, after finishing third behind Warrant at Churchill Downs on May 3. It was the seventh win in 17 career starts for the 5-year-old gelding, claimed for $62,500 at Keeneland 14 months ago.

"It was a good claim, absolutely," Cowan said. "I took a shot on him, I was not always thinking distance for him, though."

More:Belmont Stakes 2023: Post positions, odds, analysis with Forte the 5/2 favorite

Grade 3 $200,000 Poker Stakes

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will look to win his fifth Belmont Stakes later in the day with Forte, got his second win of the day when WinStar Farms and Siena Farm’s Emmanuel rallied on the outside to win The Poker, covering the mile on the Widener turf course in 1:34.35.

Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Emmanuelhit the wire a neck ahead of pacesetter Filo Di Arianna in the test for 4-year-olds and up. Chez Pierre, the 2/5 favorite in the field of six, was another half-length back in third.

"He ran great at Pimlico (in the Grade 3 Dinner Party) and seemed to come out if well," Pletcher said.

Emmanuel will now be pointed towards the Grade 1 $500,000 Fourstardave on Aug. 12 at Saratoga.

Grade 2 $250,000 True North Stakes

The stakes races kicked off with the third race of the day, with Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elite Power overpowering the field as the favorite in the True North, covering 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track in 1:15.65.

Elite Power, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., went off as the 3/5 favorite, ahead of the Brad Cox-trained Strobe at 2-1. The 5-year-old son of Curlin sat fourth through the early part of the race. But Ortiz went to work on the outside rounding the turn, with Elite Power taking the lead and drawing off in the final furlong for a 1 3/4-length win.

It was the seventh straight for Elite Power, trained by Bill Mott, with career earnings now topping $2.5 million.

"He was great last year," Oritz said. "You can see his performances and his campaign last year was great. I'm hoping he's the same or better than he was last year, so far it looks great."

Mott indicated Elite Power's next start could come in the Grade 1 $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 29 at Saratoga.

Arcangelo, led by trainer Jena Antonucci, holds off Forte to win Belmont Stakes 2023 (2024)
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