G1 Belmont Stakes Contenders Continue Preparations for the “Test of the Champion”
NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— A talented field of nine sophomores will line up for the 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Belmont Park.
With training canceled on Thursday at Belmont Park due to poor air quality conditions currently impacting New York State, each of the Belmont Stakes contenders revised training plans.
Grade 3 Peter Pan-winner Arcangelo, trained by Jena Antonucci for owner Blue Rose Farm, visited the round pen to stretch his legs.
“He’s happy and he’ll walk this afternoon,” Antonucci said. “He’ll be fine. It’s one day. It doesn’t define everything. It’s not going to change his fitness. It’s a rest day today, train tomorrow.
“We can’t sweat what we can’t control,” added Antonucci. “I can promise you none of these horses that are running on Saturday, are you going to change their fitness in one day.”
Arcangelo, by Arrogate, possesses Belmont Stakes-influenced bloodlines through his third dam Better Than Honour, who produced Belmont Stakes winners Jazil  and Rags to Riches .
A win on Saturday for Arcangelo would make Antonucci the first female trainer to saddle a Belmont Stakes-winner, but the conditioner said she’s taking everything one day at a time.
“I’ll be excited when I’ve done my job, the saddle is on and he’s walking to the racetrack,” said Antonucci.
Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox reported each of his three Belmont Stakes contenders, Angel of Empire, Hit Show, and Tapit Shoes, walked the shed row this morning. Cox said he is not concerned about missing a day of training.
“Days off are good, right? For humans and horses,” said Cox. “Everything is quiet and hopefully we can get back out tomorrow and do a little something. We’ll be fine and they’re all good-minded horses.”
SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Grade 1 Preakness winner National Treasure jogged in the shed row on Thursday morning, in lieu of a light gallop, which was the original plan. Per Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, “all systems are go” for a stab at Saturday’s “Test of the Champion.”
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of contenders in reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte and Grade 1-winner Tapit Trice. Both horses walked the shed row this morning per assistant trainer Byron Hughes.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Red Route One walked the shed row in tack on Thursday morning, per Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s chief assistant Scott Blasi.
Antonio Sano will saddle Eduardo Soto’s Il Miracolo, who will look to upset the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes
“This morning he walked the shed row. It’s the same for all. It’s the same for everyone,” Sano said. “The horse is doing good. It’s a very strong race. Hopefully, my horse runs well and comes back well.”
The Belmont Stakes headlines the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that features a total of 16 stakes events from Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10. For additional information on the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com.