Jena Antonucci Saratoga Belmont Stakes Crossed Stakes

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Success on the track has put horse trainer Jena Antonucci in the spotlight over the past year.

“The horse part, we always say, is the easy part. It’s everything else,” said Antonucci, who trained 2023 Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo. “It was an honor to be able to talk about our sport and horses, the back end, everything we do, and what the horses bring to all our lives, and just outside the gates of the track.”

Since becoming the first female trainer to ever win a Triple Crown race, Antonucci has used the extra attention to grow the sport and inspire others.

“The most important message that I think applies to everyone is that there are no shortcuts to success, and that no matter your gender, hard work is the most important part,” she said. “Do it the right way, treat the people around you right.”

A year later, Antonucci continues to operate much the same, with a hands-on approach and some upgrades. While there is no Belmont Stakes contender for her this year, she does have about two dozen thoroughbreds at Saratoga, with a few two-year-olds getting ready to race this summer.

“Horses always feel so beautiful here,” Antonucci said. “It’s just the atmosphere, the air, the energy. So it’s exciting to be back and to be back early.”

While Antonucci continues to work at Spa, Arcangelo, who would also win the Travers Stakes, has started his stallion career at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. The thoroughbred retired after suffering a foot injury while training for the Breeder’s Cup. Arcangelo later won the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old male.

“He has gone through a great transition (and) has many mothers and foals. So we’re really excited to see those guys hit the ground running next year and what that next chapter will be for him and his legacy,” said Antonucci, who was only the second female trainer to win the Traver’s Stakes.

Arcangelo, Antonucci and jockey Javier Castellano will all be honored at this year’s Belmont Gala at the Canfield Casino for their success in 2023. It’s another spotlight and more attention on the test of championship winners, but something they are grateful for.

“I’m looking forward to being there and having Javier there too. And to celebrate what a great achievement. And Javier’s first win at Belmont, ours. So there are definitely a lot of great things,” Antonucci said.