History Maker

Ocala-based racehorse trainer Jena Antonucci’s coming-out party took place on national television in the most dramatic fashion.

Jena Antonucci and Arcangelo

In a little more than 2 minutes and 29 seconds, Jena Antonucci made thoroughbred racing history. When Blue Rose Farm’s Arcangelo captured the 155th Belmont Stakes (G1) in 2:29.23 for the mile-and-a-half test on June 10, 2023, Antonucci became the first woman trainer to saddle the winner of a Triple Crown race.

Leading up to that milestone, 43 women trainers had saddled horses in the Triple Crown races: Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). None recorded a win.

The subsequent TV camera video footage of Antonucci, owner Jon Ebbert of Blue Rose Farm and Arcangelo’s entourage watching the race unfold on a tabletop monitor in their grandstand box is now part of racing lore. In between cheering on her charge, Antonucci would look back and forth from the monitor down to the actual racetrack. When Arcangelo crossed the finish line first, Antonucci and the group jumped up and down, hugging each other in sheer joy. At one moment, Antonucci almost went to her knees, grabbing ahold to the back of a chair. Then the whole group erupted again and continued the celebration down to the winner’s circle. Moments later, a jubilant Antonucci raised the Belmont Stakes (G1) trophy above her head in triumph. 

Left to right: Jon Ebbert and Jena Antonucci at the 2023 Belmont Stakes. Jena Antonucci and Arcangelo.

“I actually went to my knees to catch my breath,” says Antonucci, 48. “It was all so special.”

Following Antonucci’s historic victory, the media blitz began immediately with post-Belmont Stakes (G1) interviews. 

“I had arranged to fly back home on Sunday,” says Antonucci. “I drove from the airport to Ocala, unpacked my bag, repacked my bag, drove back to the airport and flew right back to New York for a Monday morning television interview.”

In the days following her Belmont Stakes (G1) win, Antonucci logged dozens of interviews with print, television and online media. She graciously gave of her time and in the process became an ambassador for the Ocala-based thoroughbred industry. Among Antonucci’s interviews were those with such media outlets as FOX, CBS, NBC, News Nation, Newsmax, USA Today, Thoroughbred Daily News, Blood-Horse, Paulick Report, Ocala Gazette, Horse Capital TV and The Florida Horse magazine.

“It was surreal, and I just went with the flow,” says Antonucci, who with Katie Miranda owns and operates horseOlogy, which is based at Paul Bulmahn’s GoldMark Farm. 


Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Antonucci was such a horse-crazy kid that she was riding by the time she was 3.

“Where I grew up was rural at the time and there were a lot of horses around,” recalls Antonucci. “There was a riding stable nearby and when I was 3, my mother finally stopped and signed me up for lessons.”

Antonucci was a quick study and showed on leadline before she was 4. When she was 9, her parents bought her an appendix quarter horse mare named A Hidden Star.

“Star was green-broke, not the best horse for a kid. But I learned a lot from Star, and we grew together,” shares Antonucci. “We became a great team and competed in equitation and hunter/jumper classes for years.”

Competing at shows in the south Florida
area and along the East Coast, Antonucci began riding off-track thoroughbreds that she
had retrained.

“When I was about 10, my grandfather got into racing thoroughbreds at Belmont Park and Saratoga,” notes Antonucci. “I began to show on retrained thoroughbreds through high school and beyond. And as time went on, I became increasingly curious about the thoroughbred racing industry and that led me to Ocala.”

In 2001, Antonucci moved to Ocala to work at Satish and Anne Sanan’s Padua Stables.

“With this opportunity working with young horses, I was learning how to develop racehorses and that gave me a whole new perspective,” says Antonucci. “It was all valuable experiences to add to my continuing education about racehorses.”

After leaving Padua Stables, Antonucci spent four and a half years as an equine veterinary assistant with Ocala Equine Hospital.

“Those years were key to learning more about horses and their health. I was accumulating more valuable experience,” she notes. “Finally, I felt like I was ready for another chapter and established my Bella Inizio Farm. Bella inizio means ‘beautiful beginning’ in Italian, and that’s what it was for me.”

Antonucci’s initial focus at Bella Inizio Farm was broodmares, foals, weanlings and yearlings. She also began her own breeding program and currently has two broodmares.

“After a while, I did miss that racetrack connection. And after some time, I decided to get my trainer’s license in 2010,” says Antonucci. “My first career win as a trainer was with Florida-bred Irish Wildcat, who won on March 7, 2010, at Tampa Bay Downs.”


In November 2022, Antonucci partnered with Katie Miranda to establish horseOlogy. 

“Katie and I were looking to merge and expand what we each were doing. We needed more space to do that, and we were fortunate that Paul Bulmahn worked with us to make that happen at GoldMark,” explains Antonucci. “We call it a conception-to-retirement operation. We handle everything related to raising, training and racing thoroughbreds. We offer bloodstock advising, pinhooking and small-share investing in racehorses. We also have established horseOlogy Encore, a 501 (c) (3) to re-home retired racehorses.” 

In addition to the horses at horseOlogy, there is a racing string stabled at Gulfstream Park. Fiona Goodwin, who has been with Antonucci for 10 years, is the assistant trainer who handles that division.

“We’re very fluid in our approach and dividing up our work duties,” says Antonucci. “We do what’s needed to take care of business, whether it’s at the farm, at the racetrack or at the sales.”

Antonucci and Miranda were at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale when they met Jon Ebbert, a Pennsylvania-based real estate investor who races as Blue Rose Farm.

“We were in the back ring checking out yearlings. Katie whistled as one went by to get my attention and that got Jon’s attention,” recalls Antonucci. “Katie and Jon began talking and hit it off. And that’s how we got together.”

At the sale, Ebbert paid $35,000 for a 2020 gray yearling by Arrogate out of Modeling, by Tapit. In February 2022, Ebbert sent the then 2-year-old colt, soon to be known as Arcangelo, to horseOlogy to begin his early training.

Javier Castellano and Arcangelo at the 2023 Belmont Stakes, photo by Coglianese Photos – Track Photographer NYRA

“We take a horse-first approach. I don’t like to place the burden or expectation on a horse. And I don’t like to disappoint people along the way into thinking we might have the next big horse,” explains Antonucci. “With Arcangelo, Jon wanted to give him all the time we could to develop and planned out his training accordingly.”

And as fate would have it, Arcangelo did indeed develop into the next big horse. He came into the Belmont Stakes (G1) with a win in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) in only his fourth career start. Then, of course, came the Belmont Stakes (G1) victory and the rest is history. Literally.


But Antonucci and Arcangelo weren’t done with making history. On August 26th, 2023, Arcangelo won the 154th Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course and Antonucci became only the second woman trainer to win that storied race. The first woman trainer to do so was Mary Hirsch, with Thanksgiving in 1938. 

At the end of 2023, Arcangelo was retired to with career earnings of $1,754,900. He currently stands at stud at Lane’s End in Versailles, Kentucky. Arcangelo garnered the Eclipse Award, the highest honor in thoroughbred racing, as the 2023 champion 3-year-old male. Antonucci and Ebbert accepted the Eclipse Award on behalf of Arcangelo.

Additional accolades include Antonucci winning the 2023 Big Sport of Turfdom award, which recognizes a person or group who enhances media coverage of thoroughbred racing and is presented by the Turf Publicists of America. The Florida Horse magazine presented Antonucci with the 2023 Bruce Campbell Award, which is given to an individual or organization who has brought honor and prestige to the Florida thoroughbred industry.

“It’s a lot to look back on to get some perspective. And we are so grateful to everybody who gave us the opportunities that we had. It has been wonderful to be able to share our story,” notes Antonucci. “Arcangelo took us all on a great journey. In the thoroughbred racing business, it’s all about the horses.” OS

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