Jason Beem's Thursday Column for July 21, 2022
A good Thursday to you all! Very much looking forward to opening day at Del Mar coming up on Friday. They have 110 horses on the 10-race card, and it really should just be a fantastic day. I always like to try to pick the winner of the first race of the meet, so we’ll do that a bit later.
One of the exciting things about this Del Mar meet is the return of Trevor Denman back to the booth after he was forced to miss the fall meet last year after suffering an injury. Who knows how many years we have left to hear his iconic voice calling races as he approaches 70, so personally I want to remember to enjoy each and every call.
I’ll tell you a quick story of the one time that I got to meet the great Trevor Denman. This would have been either the winter of 2007 or 2008, and I was down at Santa Anita for a weekend. I had driven down from Portland Meadows and was going to go to the Great Race Place for a two-day visit. Aaron Vercruysse of HRTV fame was giving me a tour of the track and had arranged for me to get to sit in the booth with Trevor for a race. To say I was pumped would be an understatement.
So we get up to the booth and I get to shake Trevor’s hand, and he invites me to sit down. I remember he had a little couch and a bookcase full of what looked like classic editions of literature — aka they looked like old, big books. The other thing I remember about the booth was that when I went up to the window to look out, I had to duck my head to see it. The clearance was probably enough for someone 6'0" or so, but I had to duck to be able to see fully out of the window.
So the race began and I sat there transfixed watching as a group of five maiden claimers ran around the track. They were super strung out and so it wasn’t the most action-packed race to watch, but as an announcer, those are the best ones to have guests up for because there’s not much stress.
Trevor clicks off his microphone, puts the headset down and turns around to look at me. I’ll never forget what he said. “Jason, I’m so sorry that this was the race you came up here for, that had to be the worst race we’ve ever had here at Santa Anita.” (It’s important to the story that you read that last sentence in Trevor’s voice, it makes it 10 times funnier in my opinion.)
I smiled and told Trevor, “At the track I work at, those are stakes horses.” He smiled, and I’m convinced he wasn’t sure if I was kidding or not. But I absolutely wasn’t. It was such a small conversation, but to a 27-year-old new racecaller, it was a memory I will never forget. Go get 'em Trevor!
So here’s to opening day at Del Mar! The Oceanside should be awesome (I’m picking #13 in that one), and the whole card looks great. The first race of the meet is always such a fun moment so having not seen the morning line odds, I’m going with the #4 Papale to win the first race of the season. Flavien Prat for trainer Mark Glatt, going to sit right off the leaders and grab the lead at the top of the stretch and win it! Have a great Del Mar everyone!