Blue Rose Farm's Arcangelo, last-out winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, worked five-eighths solo in 1:02.81 at Belmont May 31 with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano aboard in preparation for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1). The gray son of Arrogate galloped out in quick time.
Castellano, who won the first leg of the Triple Crown aboard Mage, said he was pleased with the breeze as the Jena Antonucci trainee prepares Arcangelo to travel two turns and beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion."
"He's a nice, beautiful-moving horse and he did it easy. He's a good work horse. In the morning, you can work him (in :59) if you wanted," Castellano said. "We all know that it's a mile and a half and you don't want to go crazy with a bullet work. We just give him a good foundation and I think we both agree we let him do what he wants to do in the morning and be happy."
Antonucci said she and Castellano agreed about the importance of a strong gallop-out.
"It's not a secret he hasn't gone two turns yet and that's the obvious conversation and we talked a lot about that," Antonucci said.
Antonucci said that Arcangelo is a go for the Belmont Stakes provided he emerges well from the work.
The lightly-raced Arcangelo has made four career starts, beginning with a pair of efforts over the winter at Gulfstream Park under Jose Ortiz that included a fourth-place finish in a one-turn mile on Jan. 14 won by eventual Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Kingsbarns.
Last out, Arcangelo stepped up into stakes company in the nine-furlong Peter Pan May 13 and won a stirring stretch duel with the favored Bishops Bay, who entered undefeated in two starts for trainer Brad Cox.
"He passed the test and we beat a nice horse," Castellano said.
Castellano has finished second in the Belmont Stakes on three occasions—all by narrow margins, including a three-quarter-length loss aboard Stay Thirsty to Ruler On Ice in 2011; a head defeat to Tonalist in 2014 when piloting 28-1 shot Commissioner; and a nose defeat to Creator in 2016 aboard Destin.
Castellano realized one Triple Crown dream this year when he secured a memorable first Kentucky Derby (G1) score, but the Hall of Famer had to settle for third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) with Mage, who will skip the Belmont in favor of summer targets.
The veteran rider said he has turned the page on the Preakness result and admitted that he has always had a soft spot for the improving Arcangelo.
Antonucci said she is taking the opportunity to start her first contender in a Triple Crown race in stride as Arcangelo looks to become the first Peter Pan winner since Tonalist in 2014 to take Belmont.This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.