There wasn’t the usual amount of hype heading into the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes, as this was another year with no chance of a Triple Crown. There was also a relatively small field (nine) of horses, and the sport of horse racing has been hit with several tragedies recently.
That doesn’t mean the Saturday stakes race didn’t produce its share of storylines. There was even an historical occurrence during the card. Here is a look back at the 2023 Belmont.
Arcangelo Skims, Wins Belmont Stakes
There were a handful of horses getting wagering support heading into the Belmont Stakes, all were in contention early in the mile-and-a-half event. When it came time to make the final push to the finish line, though, it was Arcangelo riding the rail to victory.
Sent off at fourth-choice odds of 7-1, Arcangelo ($17.80 to win, or +790) was given a perfect trip by jockey Javier Castellano. Taking the shortest-distance-between-two-points route, Arcangelo skimmed the inside, winning by a length-and-a-half in 2:29⅕. Castellano thus added a first Belmont to what was his first-ever win (with Mage) in the Kentucky Derby three weeks ago. Meanwhile, Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr.), the 2-1 choice, did finish second, despite a wide trip. Tapit Trice (Luis Saez) was third.
National Treasure (John Velazquez) came into this race having won the Preakness. He was leading throughout much of the Belmont, but pressured fractions did him in as he faded to sixth.
Arcangelo is trained by Jena Antonucci, as she’s now the first female trainer ever to win a race in the Triple Crown. Antonucci was a story before the running of the Belmont, becoming even bigger after what her horse was able to accomplish.
Antonucci was just the 11th female trainer to compete in Belmont, but she and her charge were ready. Arcangelo, a ridgling son of Arrogate who cost just $35,000 at auction, came into the Belmont Stakes off a win in the Peter Pan a month earlier.
There is always plenty of high-end thoroughbred wagering available, as per horse racing odds.
Another type of wager is a “match race” between Horse A and Horse B according to horse racing head-to-head odds.
Race Imperiled by Wildfires
The 2023 Belmont Stakes appeared to be in jeopardy as late as Friday, as those Canadian wildfires severely hindered the air quality in New York. Races were canceled Thursday at Belmont, and the air was closely monitored throughout the next few days.
Governor Kathy Hochul of New York was willing to shut down the event if necessary, but the air quality improved in time to allow the resumption of racing Friday afternoon.
Horse Deaths at Belmont
The horrific storyline continued, only this time at Belmont. Equine deaths continue to be the black cloud over the industry. It’s been Churchill Downs at the eye of that storm, having ended its meet early and moved racing to Ellis Park.
However, in the 24 hours after the Belmont Stakes, a pair of horses died during races at that track. That’s still a much fewer number than what plagued Churchill, but tragic nonetheless.
Mashnee Girl was immediately euthanized after suffering a catastrophic leg injury in the first race Sunday afternoon. A necropsy is to be performed on the 5-year-old mare.
Also euthanized was Excursionniste after an injury suffered during Saturday’s last race. Both were trained by Mark Henning.
Four deaths at Belmont since May 4th, and now several agencies are investigating as to why.