With only one graded-stakes race under his belt, Arcangelo might lack seasoning against top horses as he heads into the Belmont Stakes on June 10. But the son of Arrogate clicks off plenty of categories that make him hard to ignore in the third leg of the Triple Crown series.
For one, the son of Arrogate stands as the only horse with a local route win, which came in a Grade 3 contest. Only three weeks ago, Arcangelo won the nine-furlong Peter Pan Stakes (G3) in impressive fashion after making a sustained wide move on the turn and outkicking the talented Bishops Bay in the stretch. Both horses were pulling clear of the field.
Not many horses can make the type of four-wide move Arcangelo made in the Peter Pan and offer enough to beat a good horse in a stretch battle.
Besides Arcangelo, Forte also owns a win at this track. But Forte’s win came as a 2-year-old in a five-furlong maiden special weight about a year ago.
As discussed before, Arcangelo has the best Belmont pedigree of the probables list, and it goes beyond his long-winded sire Arrogate on top, although Arrogate’s influence alone can probably override any shortcomings. Arcangelo owns a dream pedigree on his dam side for handling a marathon.
His damsire Tapit already has sired four Belmont winners, Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit and more recently Essential Quality. Plus, Arcangelo’s dam line extends to the famous Better Than Honour, who produced two Belmont champions in Jazil and Rags to Riches.
Besides course experience and pedigree, Arcangelo brings a useful running style to this marathon affair. He can either stalk early or settle in mid-pack, which gives jockey Javier Castellano options.
In the Peter Pan, Arcangelo ran wide in sixth early on, but he was only 2 3/4 lengths away from the leader Asmodeus through the initial two fractions. Because of the longer Belmont distance and probable slower pace, Arcangelo could find himself sitting closer to the pacesetter, especially if National Treasure runs up front alone and the other jockeys need to adjust early on.
Even though the importance of this category seems diminished in the Belmont, Arcangelo shows a competitive speed figure as well heading into the race. In fact, there is almost no difference between his and Forte’s current best figures, and that is an important point since Forte will run as the public betting favorite.
Arcangelo posted a 97 Beyer Speed Figure and 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his Peter Pan Stakes win, and those are numbers that put him in the mix against the other top contenders lining up for the dirt marathon.
In comparison, Forte earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure and 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win last November. More recently, Forte posted a 95 Beyer and 116 on TimeformUS for his Florida Derby (G1) win in April after overcoming post 11, which is not easy given the race starts on the turn.
Given Forte is expected to start as the favorite in the Belmont, Arcangelo’s speed figures fit right in. With only one more step forward, Arcangelo can even earn the type of speed figure that can surpass Forte. Whether Arcangelo moves forward on Saturday depends on how well he handles the extra distance and higher-level competition.
Those are four important handicapping categories Arcangelo checks off in terms of the Belmont Stakes this week. Trainer Jena Antonucci does not pop up in the big stakes scene often, but it only takes a good horse such as Arcangelo to bring a trainer to a different level. On paper, it will come as a surprise if Arcangelo does not at least fire a competitive race.