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Antonucci Here for the Long Run at Saratoga

Nothing like a brisk, 20-hour road trip from Florida to get the blood pumping. 

That was trainer Jena Antonucci on the morning of July 21 after arriving at her barn on the Oklahoma Training Track following the trek from the sunshine state.

Antonucci will be grounded at the Spa for the rest of the meet as she oversees the progress of Arcangelo , the Belmont Stakes (G1) winner, who is being pointed to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) on Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

Arcangelo, a son of Arrogate , made Antonucci the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race after the Belmont victory.

Antonucci doesn’t want to bask in any glow from that race, preferring to deflect it towards her staff, including her longtime assistant Fiona Goodwin. Life is good, but there is still work to be done.

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She watched Arcangelo gallop on Saratoga’s main track on the morning of July 21, hours after arriving from the journey from Ocala, Fla. With her were her trusty companions, her dogs, Lucy and Mando.

Arcangelo, as his routine, rolled around in his round pen outside of the barn. He was bathed. He was walked. He was watched by his trainer. The blueprint is to have Arcangelo train up to the Midsummer Derby and Antonucci is just fine with that.

“When the owner (Jon Ebbert)  bought this horse, he said he was buying because he wanted to focus on the 2024 Breeders’ Cup,” Antonucci said. “People laughed, but they are kind of getting it now. We have had to have a plan, we are being patient. We aren’t ducking races. We are letting this horse grow up. We don’t need to force things with him.”

Arcangelo has raced five times in his career and has three wins; four of his races have been this year.

When asked if the ultimate goal this year is the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Antonucci smiled.

“We are focusing on one at a time,” she said. “I’m not going to give you that one.”

Antonucci will watch with interest the July 22  $1 million Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park, which features Kentucky Derby (G1) Mage , who will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

Castellano is also the rider of Arcangelo, so a decision will be have to be made sometime soon on which one he will ride in the Travers if both colts get there. Again, there will be no worry from Antonucci about it.

“The rider thing will work out,” she said. “Someone will hang onto him. I feel like, in life, you can’t stress about things you can’t control and I can’t control that. It will work out, it always does.”

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