Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Feb. 17, 2022
There was a hot topic the last couple weeks on Twitter that many in horse racing have been talking about. People saying racing needed more 'positive stories' as opposed to some of the more critical ones that generally go to print.
My take is truly that both types of stories need to be done.
As we continue to work to improve and hopefully grow the game, we're going to have to go through some rough stuff in the media to weed out the bad actors in the game.
To me that's not negative, that's actually a positive step.
That being said, I personally try to view life through a lens of positivity. And I admire others who can do that. So that's why this week I wanted to interview Sean Patrick Nolan. Sean is a racing fan in Massachusetts who exudes positivity and support on his Twitter account @SPNnation74.
Jason Beem: How'd you first get into horse racing as a fan?
Sean Patrick Nolan: My dad since he was a teenager growing up in Boston loved to go to Suffolk Downs. He would take the Blue Line train which had a stop right next to the track. Needless to say since the days I can remember walking, horse racing has always been a very important part of my life.
JB: What are your favorite memories of Suffolk Downs?
SPN: Wow so many amazing memories. Obviously seeing Cigar twice win the Mass Cap was amazing. Seeing Waquoit upset Broad Brush. Got my picture taken in the winner circle for the first time with a horse named Honey Man. I was a kid and I don’t think I slept that whole night afterwards I was so excited. Best Turkey Club in Boston! It won Boston Magazine’s best every year. To sit at the table looking out on the races and getting that sandwich was a kid’s dream daily double! Also two great friendships with Larry Collmus and Jessica Paquette were formed there and I’m honored to call them friends for life.
JB: You're a Boston area guy, but you seem to have a great affinity for Woodbine and Mohawk racing, what is it about those circuits you enjoy?
SPN: The people. They are some of the nicest and down to earth people you will ever meet. They treat you like you are racing family. Some of my best friends in racing are up there and I am privileged to know each and every one of them. To be called an honorary member of the Canadian Racing family both on the thoroughbred and harness sides is quite an honor. I support them just as much as they all so nicely support me. That turf course is one of the most beautiful in the world. To stand next to it and watch a race is an experience like no other. And finally my beloved Frozen Lemonade from Tim Hortons. It just doesn’t get better than one of those on a warm day or night!
JB: Like many serious fans, you enjoy visiting tracks out of your state. What are some of your favorite ones you've been to?
SPN: My two favorites are Woodbine/Mohawk and Saratoga. Gulfstream Park has always been a favorite of mine but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I liked it much better before it was a casino. We had our own box in front right near the finish line! Santa Anita is just beautiful and I don’t think there is a better backdrop in racing than that. Keeneland is magnificent and Belmont is so enormous it’s incredible to take a race in from there. Churchill Downs for the Derby and Pimlico for the Preakness are both amazing.
JB: What's one track or race you'd really love to get to that you haven't been?
SPN: I’m greatly looking forward to seeing Colonial Downs for the first time this summer. That course looks absolutely beautiful and any track that has Jason Beem, Jessica Paquette, Jill Byrne, and Victor Carrasco at it is one I definitely have to visit! Because of the time I’ve always spent at Saratoga I’ve never been able to get to either Del Mar or Monmouth. I've been to Keeneland but have never seen a live race there so I’m hoping to see all three for the first time with live action in the near future.
JB: You always display such a positive outlook on things in racing, why is that important for you to communicate positivity?
SPN: I’ve always prided myself on being a positive person. My grandfather use to always tell me to try to find the positive in each situation and that stuck with me. I have so many great friends in racing who work so hard and do an incredible job on a daily basis. Yet they are all constantly bombarded by people who are so quick to point out all the negatives that exist in their profession. That can wear on a person and I feel like it’s my job to pick them up and remind them what a truly incredible job it is they are all doing!
JB: I do always love though when you get fired up about Boston sports teams when they don't do well :) Which sport is your favorite to watch that isn't racing?
SPN: Lol. I am a huge and passionate fan of all the four major sports teams in Boston. 5 if you include the Revolution in soccer. Having grown up in and also worked in both the Bruins and Celtics organizations I would say hockey is my favorite but the other three are right there as well.
JB: What's your best score as a bettor at the windows? Or most memorable?
SPN: It was the Preakness Day that Red Bullet beat Fusaichi Pegasus. I literally could not lose that day. I think I had to make like 65-70 bets and I cashed with profit on like 90% of them. I’m not a large better but still finished like $1800 ahead on the day. Was in a zone like no other. I don’t bet a lot of pick 4’s ,5’s and 6’s so my chances for huge hits are limited but I stay with what I know works for me and it’s been very successful so far.
JB: If you were to ever to work in the sport of horse racing, what would be a job you'd enjoy or think you'd do well at?
SPN: That’s a great question. Believe it or not it’s not one I’ve thought about much because I’ve always enjoyed racing from a strictly fan perspective. Obviously anything that means working with people would be a huge strength for me. Whether working for a syndicate, writing about horse racing or covering it in some media capacity and even in some Hospitality/Group events I believe I could have success in any of those areas.
JB: Who's someone on Twitter you really enjoy following that maybe not everyone in racing knows or follows? Let's give them the SPN follower bump!
SPN: Wow so many people that deserved to be recognized. I could be here for days. I will go with a fabulous friend and racing photographer John Watkins. @JohnW70112. Anyone who is around racing in Canada knows how talented he is and whether it is thoroughbred, harness or quarter horses he is so respected by all three. I don’t think his work is as well known in the States but more people should follow him because he’s one of the very best!
Thanks so much for joining us Sean!