What we learned: Arcangelo is fast enough for Belmont Stakes

What we learned: Arcangelo is fast enough for Belmont Stakes
Photo: Jason Moran / Eclipse Sportswire

Before the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park, Arcangelo already had posted a fast race on some past-performance brands when he broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park. His speed figures almost seemed too good, but he backed up the impressive maiden win by capturing the Peter Pan with another fast race in terms of final time and speed figures.

Arcangelo also overcame a wide turn and final stretch battle with the favorite Bishops Bay to capture the Peter Pan in a fast time. 

After breaking from the rail and traveling on the inside for the initial quarter, jockey Javier Castellano guided Arcangelo to an outside stalking position in the crowded pack following the leaders.

Arcangelo traveled three wide before rounding the long Belmont turn and angling even wider to join the leaders in a four-wide position.

At Belmont Park, making a four-wide move on the turn usually ends up more harmful than at smaller tracks because of the length of the turn and ground loss. Nevertheless, Arcangelo was good enough to endure the ground loss and find himself challenging Bishops Bay at the top of the stretch. Castellano took Arcangelo right beside Bishops Bay to fight.

Toward the wire, Bishops Bay briefly gained a slight advantage in their epic stretch battle. But Bishops Bay possibly lost focus at that point, and Arcangelo started to battle his way back. In his last few strides, Arcangelo took the lead and won by a head over Bishops Bay.

Remember that when Bishops Bay broke his maiden, he won over his stablemate First Mission on Feb. 18 in a six-furlong race at Fair Grounds. Two months later, First Mission won the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in mid-April and will start in the Preakness this week at Pimlico as the possible favorite or second choice.

Arcangelo beat a fast colt with a bright future in Bishops Bay. The main knock on Bishops Bay is that he seems a bit undeveloped, as seen by the stretch run where he lost concentration for a few seconds. Still, Arcangelo defeated a good one while not being fully developed himself.

As for the pace, it felt slow with the long shot Asmodeus hitting the first two fractions in 24.52 and 48.83 seconds under pressure from Bishops Bay before Bishops Bay began to take over with a firmer grip on the lead when they rounded the turn. Bishops Bay hit the six-furlong point in 1:13.23, which TimeformUS gave a blue marking to label as slow.   

Given that Arcangelo needed to make up a few lengths from his stalking position on the outside and that he went wider on the turn, the tepid pace makes his win even more impressive because he overcame it. Bishops Bay held the advantage because he ran in the pressing position early.

Arcangelo finished the nine furlongs in 1:49.71, which earned him a 97 Beyer Speed Figure, according to Daily Racing Form, and a 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Now Arcangelo posted a fast number in a race other than his maiden win against at Gulfstream. This time, Arcangelo had to battle the talented Bishops Bay.

Can Arcangelo handle the 12 furlongs in the Belmont Stakes?

In terms of pedigree, Arcangelo shows an excellent female side with Better Than Honour as his third dam. Better Than Honour produced back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil and Rags to Riches, as well as Arcangelo’s second dam Teeming, who is a Storm Cat half-sister to those two long-winded runners. 

Arcangelo’s damsire Tapit also produced multiple Belmont winners himself, and Arcangelo’s own sire Arrogate typically sires routers too. 

If the connections want to take a shot at the Belmont in June, Arcangelo has the pedigree for the race both on his top and bottom side.

As a side note, the public overbet Arcangelo down to 5-2 in the Peter Pan off his Gulfstream maiden effort. Although Arcangelo did run well to pick up his first win at Gulfstream for trainer Jena Antonucci, it felt unfair to take 5-2, considering his lack of experience in stakes races.

Nevertheless, Arcangelo proved that he does belong in the best 3-year-old stakes races with his 97 Beyer and 117 on TimeformUS. Whether he takes the next step in the Belmont or another race remains a question. No matter what graded-stakes race is next for Arcangelo, he will pose a threat.

Perhaps Bishops Bay still deserves a shot at the Belmont as well, although he might fare better aiming for a summer nine-furlong race such as the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth or Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.

Both 3-year-olds ran well and gave the Peter Pan a quality feeling. Watch for both horses to further develop and find success at the higher levels soon.  

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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