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First female trainer to win Belmont looks beyond her historic feat

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The sign outside Jenna Antonucci’s Barn 44 at Saratoga Race Course says a lot, but not everything.

2023 Belmont Stakes Winner

Trainer: Jenna Antonucci

Owner: Blue Rose Farm

Horse: Arcangelo

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Jenna Antonucci poses for a photo next to her horse, De Gooder, in the stables at Saratoga Race Course. Jason Senes, New York Post

There was no mention of Antonucci becoming the first female thoroughbred trainer to win a Triple Crown race on June 10, 2023, in Elmont, New York.

“we thing “Apparently I won last year,” Antonucci told The Post with a laugh. “Obviously, it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. It wasn’t like, ‘If I win the Belmont, I’ll be the first woman to achieve something.’ that.

“The Belmont is such a historic race. It’s so American and part of the essence of horse racing. For me, it was about seeing our team get it done, seeing the horses get it done and seeing the owners get it done.”

Antonucci prepared herself for the next question, but from her response it was clear this wasn’t the first time she’d been asked: whether she was the Billie Jean King of horse racing.

“Oh my goodness,” she said.

After a short pause, she continued, “I guess I’m still not fully comfortable in that space because it’s not the way I do things. I know someone’s name has to be on the program, but it’s the effort of everyone in the barn that makes all of this happen, so I wasn’t up there making a racket by myself.”

“I certainly understand what it means to people and what it means to other women and young girls and boys to do something for the first time. And it’s taken me probably the last year to understand that: ‘Okay, now I understand what it means.’

Jenna Antonucci pets one of the horses after giving the jockey a ride in the stables at Saratoga Race Course. Jason Senes, New York Post

Following the Belmont, Arcangelo also won the Travers, Saratoga’s signature summer event.

Another first, Antonucci became the first female trainer to win at the Travers since Mary Hirsch in 1938.

But that doesn’t mean she has any interest in turning her stables into an all-female colony.

Will you bet on the 2023 Belmont Stakes?

“I’ll hire anyone [who] “They want to work hard, put the horse’s well-being above their own, and be dedicated to the horse,” Antonucci says, “Their gender is secondary, so whether they’re young or old, my focus is always the horse and them loving the horse, and then we’ll do everything else.”

What’s going on with Arcangelo? Well, you know…

“He’s at Lane’s End [Farm] “He completed his first filly registration this year in Kentucky,” said Antonucci, 48. “Listen, we promised him … if you These thingsthen you These things“… He’s doing those kinds of things now. I’m looking forward to seeing those kids next year.”

Craig Steinhardt spoke to the New York Post about Saratoga Race Course trainer Jenna Antonucci. Jason Senes, New York Post

One of Antonucci’s current associates is Craig Steinhart, part-owner of What in the Literary, a 2-year-old filly who won Thursday’s ninth race at The Astoria at 13-to-1 odds in her third start.

Steinhardt told The Washington Post he’s pleased that Antonucci is starting to receive the praise he rightly deserves.

“She always treats me like I’m a very important person, and I’m not,” he said. “She’s very nice and honest. When I call, she answers. She’s really great.”

“I’m very happy for her success, but she hasn’t changed at all since I first met her – no Belmont, no Traverse.”