Archangelo’s win in Belmont Stakes leaves 3-year-old championship up for grabs


Archangelo wins Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito

Archangelo wins Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito

June 12 (UPI) — Arcangelo’s impressive victory in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes produced different winners in each Triple Crown race, leaving this year’s 3-year-old championship up for grabs and promising some great confrontations through the second half of the year.

More than a few analysts continue to feel Belmont runner-up Forte is the best of the bunch after being forced out of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. And there are still some late-developing 3-year-olds likely to have an impact. Bring on the Haskell, Jim Dandy and Travers.

Meanwhile, the Canadian wildfire smoke blew away from Belmont Park just in time for a magnificent three-day festival of top-level racing with the winners that included Clairiere, Caravel, Cody’s Wish, Elite Wish, Pretty Mischievous and In Italian.

The Triple Crown Trail

Arcangelo won Saturday’s $1.5 million Grade I Belmont Stakes with a nifty move up the rail through the turn that positioned him perfectly on the lead with enough left to hold off Forte and Tapit Trice while easily handling the 1 1/2 miles.

The 1 1/2-length win also catapulted him to the top ranks of an increasingly good-looking bunch of 3-year-olds.

The Arrogate colt, out of the Tapit mare Modeling, took three tries to get his first win during the winter at Gulfstream Park.

He then jumped right up to win the Grade III Peter Pan at Belmont on May 13. That win wasn’t enough to generate much support in the Belmont, where he went to the post at odds just short of 8-1.

Trainer Jena Antonucci said there are no plans for Arcangelo other than good things.

“There is zero idea,” she said Sunday morning. “We know what the calendar is and what’s where, so we’ll let him come out of this and tell us. She added the Travers “is on our radar, but the stakes schedule is there, and if it’s seven weeks until we run or 11 weeks until we run, we’ll just back into it.”

The Grade I Travers, the “Midsummer Derby” is Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Forte and Tapit Trice, said the prolonged layoff forced by Forte’s forced scratch as the Derby favorite proved too much to overcome.

“I knew we were asking a lot coming off the 10-week layoff,” Pletcher said. “He got shuffled back a little bit and once he [jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.] got him outside in the clear, he was still making impact at the end. But he just ran out of time getting there.”

Pletcher said Forte and Tapit Trice will be considered for either, or both, the Grade I Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park or the $500,000 Grade II Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga.

“I think both races would be possible with both horses targeting the Travers. We’ll just give it a couple weeks, see how they come out of it, how they’re training and go from there,” Pletcher said Sunday.

Antonucci became the first female trainer to win any Triple Crown race and was humble in her assessment of the honor, saying, “You put great people around you, you work hard. Work your tail off. It will come if you do it the right way. Do it the right way.”

Meanwhile, add Arabian Lion to the list of late-blooming 3-year-olds after the Justify colt rolled to a 1 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s $400,000 Grade I Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park.

Drew’s Gold and Gilmore were second and third as Arabian Lion finished the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.70. John Velazquez rode for trainer Bob Baffert.

Arabian Lion struggled to hold a lead as a juvenile and was caught late in his 3-year-old debut in the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles. He returned from that, however, to win the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico going the same trip.

“The Lexington Stakes was a head-scratcher,” Baffert said. “It looked like he was going to win and I think he saw something in the crowd and quit running and then he got beat. His race at Pimlico was amazing.”

Baffert said Arabian Lion is a candidate for the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 22 but wouldn’t commit to the Travers.

“We have other horses that are just coming back,” he said, citing Cave Rock and others. Cave Rock, another by Arrogate, has not raced since finishing second behind Forte in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has yet to post a published workout.

Horse Safety and Regulation

Trouble continued to stalk the Triple Crown as two horses suffered fatal breakdowns on the Belmont Park track during Belmont Stakes weekend.

Excursionniste broke down on the turn in the race immediately after the Belmont. and Mashnee Girl was injured near the quarter pole in Sunday’s first race. Both horses were euthanized on the track.

Their deaths followed the breakdown of Havnameltdown on the Preakness Stakes undercard at Pimlico and 12 deaths during the Churchill Downs meeting.

Churchill Downs ended its spring racing prematurely after last weekend’s races, shifting the action to Ellis Park, which it also owns. Ellis ran without apparent incident during the weekend despite heavy Sunday rains which turned the track sloppy.

In a letter published Friday in the New York Daily News, Belinda Stronach, CEO and president of the company that owns Santa Anita, Gulfsteam Park, Pimlico and other tracks, called for a meeting of “CEO-level horse racing leadership” this summer at Saratoga.

She suggested the events have “the clear goal of driving uniform standards of care and identifying and committing to investments that will enhance equine safety.”


While the 3-year-olds continue to mix it up, the older horses also continue to slug things out.

Next stepped up nicely in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade II Brooklyn Stakes at Belmont Park, winning by 2 1/4 lengths after opening a yawning lead in the late going. Calibrate and Red Run were second and third with the favorite, Warrant, fourth.

It was a nice comeback for Next, a 5-year-old Not This Time gelding who seemed to be rounding into nice shape at the end of last season, but finished behind Warrant and Red Run in their last start, the Isaac Murphy Marathon at Churchill Downs May 3. That race and the Brooklyn were both run at 1 1/2 miles.

Sunday’s $400,000 Grade III Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds was transplanted from Churchill Downs to Ellis Park, but four of the seven starters were repeaters from the Kentucky Derby.

Two of those, Disarm and Verifying, came running late down the Ellis stretch, with Disarm outfinishing his rival by 1/2 length.

It was another 4 1/2 lengths to Bo Cruz in third. Disarm, a Gun Runner colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:49.59 under Joel Rosario, improving on his fourth-place finish in the Derby.

It was only the second win of Disarm’s career, but also has to his credit a second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and third in the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland.

“It was a little wet today which is always concerning to see how horses would like it,” Bloodhorse’s Molly Rollins quoted Rosario as saying after the race. “He seemed to like it and got over the track well. It was a very good performance.”


Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous doubled up on that win with a gritty, late-running score in Friday’s $500,000 Grade I Acorn at Belmont Park.

Pretty Mischievous got the lead at mid-stretch as the pacesetting favorite, Munnys Gold, began to fade. She then was all out to salvage the win over Dorth Vader, who was making up ground to her inside.

The final margin was a head with the winner clocked in 1:32.32. Occult edged Munnys Gold for third. Tyler Gaffalione rode for trainer Brendan Walsh and owner-breeder Godolphin.

Pretty Mischievous, by Into Mischief, now has won six of eight starts with a second and a third into mix.

Saturday’s $500,000 Grade I Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park was a rubber match in the ongoing battle between Clairiere and 2022 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath.

Advantage Clairiere after the 5-year-old Curlin mare rallied from last of six to win by 1/2 length, while Secret Oath was never involved and reported fifth, beaten more than 12 lengths. Search Results and Played Hard were second and third.

Clairiere, with Joel Rosario up for trainer Steve Asmussen, got her eighth win from 19 starts and second straight victory in the Ogden Phipps. She has been beaten less than a length in each of the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“I am very proud,” said winning owner-breeder Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables. “And of course her mother [Cavorting] won this race, too. It’s been a family tradition.”

Banke said she hopes Clairiere can win the older female Eclipse Award for this season, and Asmussen said the key target in that quest will be the Breeders’ Cup Distaff — again.

Out West, Adare Manor led all the way to a convincing victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita.

The 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly, with Juan Hernandez up for trainer Baffert, opened a 6-lengths lead in the stretch and coasted home first by 4 1/2 lengths over Kirstenbosch. Desert Dawn was third. Adare Manor, second in last year’s Santa Anita Oaks, now owns three straight wins.

At Monmouth Park, Shotgun Hottie mowed ’em down in Saturday’s $100,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, leading most of the way to a 5 1/2-lengths victory. Signal From Noise was second-best but 1 1/4 lengths better than Miss New York in third.

Shotgun Hottie, a 4-year-old Gun Runner filly trained by Cherie DeVaux, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.64 with Paco Lopez up.

Sprint / Dirt Mile

Cody’s Wish posted his sixth straight win and ninth from his last 10 starts, taking Saturday’s $1 million Grade I Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, the “Met Mile,” at Belmont Park by 3 1/4 lengths.

The 5-year-old son of Curlin, a Godolphin homebred trained by Bill Mott, made his usual late bid five wide in the stretch run and had no trouble holding off Zandon and White Aborrio, who were second and third.

Cody’s Wish, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is renowned for having bonded with disabled teen Cody Dorman, who met him during a “Make a Wish” visit to the Godolphin operation.

“It’s an amazing story and we’re so grateful to be part of it and have it carry on,” said Godolphin’s U.S. bloodstock director, Michael Banahan.

“But it’s all down to the horse. He’s a special, special horse. There was a good group of horses here today and he won relatively easy. He looked like he was toying with them at the end.”

Banahan said the next race for Cody’s Wish remains a question mark. “The races for him at this distance are not really out there.”

Juddmonte has had champions in most of racing’s divisions and now is a powerhouse in the dirt sprint category, too. Elite Power charged to his sixth straight win for the global powerhouse in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade II True North Stakes at Belmont Park, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Anarchist with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.

That followed victories in the $1.5 million Group 3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the Grade II Vosburgh as the 5-year-old entire son of Curlin climbed the class ladder quickly for trainer Bill Mott.

“We have had a lot of nice horses over the years, said Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of North American operations for Godolphin.

“The oddity of this guy is that dirt sprinting isn’t anything we’ve ever really geared our program for. … For the first time we’re winning races that we hadn’t before. These are races that we’d never even competed in before. This is very satisfying.”

Filly & Mare Sprint

Sunday’s $150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park was an example of the old adage, “There’s a reason we run these races.”

There were two solid favorites in the five-filly field, Chocolate Gelato and Aunt Becca. They managed to finish fourth and fifth.

The three double-digit long shots, L Street Lady, Unified Alliance and Wildhawk, finished 1-2-3. Manny Franco coaxed home L Street Lady, a Munnings filly, in 1:11.10.

Unifying came with a late run over the sloppy Ellis Park track to win Sunday’s $175,000 Leslie’s Lady Stakes by 3 lengths over the favorite, Topsy. B G Warrior was a long shot third.

Unifying, a Union Rags filly trained by Riley Mott, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.64 with Cristian Torres up. It was the first stakes win for both the filly and trainer.


Up to the Mark tackled 1 1/4 miles for the first time in Saturday’s $750,000 Grade I Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park and found the trip to his liking.

With Irad Ortiz Jr. riding, the 4-year-old Not This Time colt raced just off the leaders, shifted three-wide turning for home and ran by to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Soldier Rising was second, edging the Godolphin-owned invader from England, Ottoman Fleet.

Up to the Mark finished third in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland to start 2023, then romped to a 3 3/4-length score when given another quarter-mile to play with in the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

“He gives me the impression that he’ll handle a little more ground,” trainer Pletcher said of Up to the Mark. “I don’t know what we’ll do from here.”

Pletcher said he might try the colt at 1 1/2 miles to see if he could handle the Breeders’ Cup Turf but he will also consider the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 12 at Colonial Downs at 1 1/4 miles.

Godolphin did better in Friday’s $250,000 Grade II Belmont Gold Cup as Siskany, with the benefit of a perfect ride by William Buick, produced the needed punch at the end of 2 miles to win by 2 lengths over The Grey Wizard. British Royalty was third.

Siskany, a 5-year-old Dubawi gelding trained by Charlie Appleby, was the class of a field that included several hurdles specialists. Siskany finished second, just a neck behind Broome, in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March.

On Sunday at Santa Anita, basketball met the movies in the finish of the $100,000 Cinema Stakes for 3-year-olds as Wizard of Westwood completed a gate-to-wire victory by 1 1/2 lengths over Maltese Falcon.

The favorite, Mi Hermano Ramon, failed to sustain a stretch bid and settled for third.

Wizard of Westwood (the nickname affectionately bestowed upon the late, great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden) is a Tu Brutus colt trained by Michael McCarthy. He improved to two wins, two seconds and a third from five starts. The Maltese Falcon … well, everyone knows about that.

Filly & Mare Turf

“Il vincitore” is Italian for “the winner” and In Italian was “un facile vincitore” in Friday’s $500,000 Grade I Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park — an easy winner.

The 5-year-old Dubawi mare blasted out of the gate, led throughout the 1-mile test and won without challenge by 3 3/4 lengths. Spendarella was second and Wakanaka filled out the trifecta.

It Italian was clocked in 1:34.00 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Chad Brown and owner Peter Brant, who also was part-owner of the race’s namesake, Just a Game.

“She’s probably as good as anyone we’ve ever had,” Brant said. “And that’s saying something.” He said the $500,000 Grade I Diana at Saratoga is the next target, all being well.

Older fillies and mares were on the track for the $600,000 Grade I New York Stakes Friday at Belmont Park and Market Segmentation, with Jose Ortiz up, took them the whole 1 1/4 miles to victory.

Didia’s four-race win streak came to an end as she could only chase to finish second, 3/4 length back. The favorite, War Like Goddess, finished sixth but was beaten only 2 3/4 lengths as the field bunched up behind the first two. Godolphin’s With the Moonlight was a late scratch.

Market Segmentation, trained by Chad Brown for Klaravich Stables, finished in 2:02.12, scoring her fifth win from seven starts and the trainer said she may have to face stablemate In Italian in the Diana.

“She has gotten better every single race and you love to see horses like that,” he said. “You have to think about the Diana next.”

Selenaia, last seen racing and winning at Horseshoe Indianapolis, surged quickly to the lead turning for home in Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita and kicked away to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Broadway Girls.

The favorite, Paris Secret, finished third as Selenaia, an Irish-bred filly by Sea the Moon, finished 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.18. Joe Bravo rode for trainer Jonathan Thomas.

On Sunday at Belmont Park, Prerequisite, with Flavien Prat up, set a pressured pace through most of the $200,000 Grade II Wonder Again Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, opened a temporary gap over her rivals and held on to win by a neck over long shot Be Your Best.

The favorite. Revalita, finished third.

Prerequisite, a daughter of Upstart from Chad Brown’s barn, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.20 while contesting her first stakes race.

Turf Mile

Emmanuel rallied from last of six in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade III Poker Stakes at Belmont Park and was up in the final strides to win by a neck over front-running Filo Di Arianna. The odds-on favorite, Chez Pierre, was third.

Emmanuel, a 5-year-old More Than Ready colt, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.25 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Todd Pletcher.

With the exception of two Grade I clunkers, the colt has prospered since leaving the 2022 Triple Crown trail and switching to shorter races on the green course.

Turf Sprint

Caravel romped to her fifth straight win in Saturday’s $400,000 Grade I Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park.

The 6-year-old Mizzen Mast mare pressed the early pace, took over the lead when asked by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and got clear in the final sixteenth, winning by 3/4 length from Big Invasion.

Her previous four wins included last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland for trainer Brad Cox.

Cox said Caravel’s owners “called an audible” to skip the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot with Caravel “and I’m fine with it. … The Breeders’ Cup is our main target.

“There are some races up at Saratoga, but I’m not sure yet how many more times we would need to run prior to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll just try to keep her happy and healthy.”

Poppy Flower came with a rush outside the leaders in deep stretch to win Friday’s $200,000 Grade III Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont Park by a head over pacesetting favorite Bubble Rock. Amy C nosed out Bay Storm to finish third.

Poppy Flower, a 4-year-old Lea filly trained by Bill Mott, covered 6 furlongs in 1:08.53 while picking up her fourth win, first in a graded stakes.


Gold Sweep, the odds-on favorite, drew off in the stretch to win Sunday’s $150,000 Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park by 9 lengths. Ship Cadet and Yo Yo Candy completed the trifecta.

Gold Sweep, a Speightstown colt, got 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.47 with Jose Ortiz in the irons. Gold Sweep finished second in his only previous start, a neck short of Wilson Q, May 18 at Churchill Downs.

Juvenile Fillies

Asmussen made it a sweep of Sunday’s 2-year-old races at Belmont Park as Closing Act tracked the early pace in Sunday’s $150,000 Astoria Stakes, closed smartly through the stretch and won off by 3 1/2 lengths.

Union Suit was second best, with Living Magic third.

Golden Ghost, subject of a lot of pre-race chatter, faded early and finished fourth. Closing Act, a Munnings filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.59 for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. She won her only previous start at Churchill Downs on May 11.

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