LONG ISLAND - Jena Antonucci has been riding horses since she was 3 years old. She is humble but hopes to mark a major milestone as the first female trainer to win the Belmont Stakes with Arcangelo.
"We’re just going to stay in the moment," she said.
The duo has been working together for the past year and a half.
"I happen to be a woman who does this," she said. "It’s part of my story, but he’s the story."
The 3-yo thoroughbred travels with his sidekick Basha. Antonucci says he loves to eat and nap but his pedigree and most recent race when he took first shows he has what it takes to win.
"All of his training schedules, feeds, nutrition, exercise routine, everything that happens with the horse is on me to do it right and to the best of our ability," she said.
The team skipped training Thursday morning due to poor air quality from the Canadian wildfires. The hope is for conditions to improve in time for the race.
Antonucci says the horses, right now, aren’t at any disadvantage.
"They’re much more durable than we give them credit for," she said. "I have no doubt we’ll be in safe conditions to run."
According to race records, Antonucci will only be the 11th woman to saddle a Belmont runner in the 155th-year history of the race. Sarah Lundy was the first to break new ground in 1984.
"She’s done a great job and he’s come a long way," said Jon Ebbert who owns Arcangelo. "We’re ecstatic where he’s at and the opportunity to win the Belmont."